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How To Clean Children’s Ears

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How To Clean Baby Ears

Ask-a-Doc | How to remove ear wax | Cook Children’s

When it comes to cleaning baby ears, there are more donts than dos. Small ears are vulnerable and can easily suffer damage.


  • Dont: Use Q-tips or cotton swabs to clean your babys ears. If you insert anything into their ear canal, it will most likely push the wax further inside. Or even worse, puncture their eardrum. The mucosa that lines the ear canal is also very sensitive and can easily bleed, even from the friction of using a cotton swab.
  • Dont: Use your fingers! Even your pinky finger is larger than a cotton swab and will likely cause damage.

Problems From Using Cotton

  • The cotton-tipped swab pushes the wax back in. The earwax builds up and causes symptoms.
  • Ear canal blockage
  • Trapped water behind the wax .
  • Itchy or painful canals, especially in teens who often use Q-tips. A dry ear canal is always itchy.
  • Sometimes, bleeding or damage to the eardrum.
  • Cotton swabs cause more than 10,000 ear injuries each year in the US. More than 2,000 are punctured ear drums. Never allow young children to play with cotton swabs.

When Should I Call The Doctor

  • ear pain, itchiness, or discomfort

In infants and toddlers, tugging at the ears can be sign of an ear problem.

Sometimes doctors will remove earwax:

  • if it’s painful, itchy, or uncomfortable
  • if affects hearing
  • to get a better view of the eardrum to check for problems

Earwax removal usually is done in the doctor’s office. There might be a little discomfort but it isn’t painful. If a child can’t sit still or cooperate, the doctor can remove it in an operating room while the child is under general anesthesia.

Doctors can remove earwax in different ways, including:

  • scooping it out, pulling it out, or suctioning it out with special instruments designed for this purpose
  • flushing it out with warm water. Sometimes a doctor will put drops into the ear canal to soften the wax and break it down. Or they might ask you to do this at home and then return to the doctor for wax removal.

Removal takes only a few minutes. If there’s a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic ear drops.

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Symptoms Of Earwax Buildup

  • Too much earwax can cause rubbing of the ear or poking in the canal.
  • A piece of ear wax can become dry and hard in the ear canal. This creates a feeling that an object is in the ear.
  • Complete blockage of the ear canal by wax causes more symptoms. These include decreased or muffled hearing.
  • A large piece of earwax may be seen inside the ear canal.

Caring For Toddler Ears

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Your toddler gets into a mess of messes these days and some of that grimy stuff finds its way inside her ears . So while getting her ears cleaned isnt on any kids top priority list, its important to do the dirty deed, both for hygiene and for hearing. Heres how to get the job done with a minimum amount of wiggling and whining.

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Why You Shouldnt Remove Earwax With A Cotton Swab

Earwax, which is made of secretions from glands in our ear canals, sweat, sebum and skin that has been shed, plays an important role in keeping our ears healthy, says Frederick Kozak, a Vancouver paediatric otolaryngologist . Wax fights infection, moistens and lubricates the ear canal, and traps little bits of dirt and dust, he explains. Under normal circumstances, maintenance is simple: Ignore it. Wax naturally works its way out of the ear canal, bringing those trapped particles with it. Many parents make the mistake of seeing a bit of wax in the ear and cleaning it with a cotton swab or hairpin, says Kozak, but thats likely just going to push the wax further inwardand risk injury. At most, use a cloth to wipe away bits of wax that have worked their way out.

Problems can arise if wax gets impacted, or your child happens to produce a lot of it. Wax covering the eardrum can cause hearing to be muffled or fuzzy and can also block a doctors view of the eardrum to complicate identifying an ear infection.

When Why & How Often Do You Need To Clean A Toddlers Ears

Most of the time, believe it or not, you dont have to do anything!

The American Academy of Otolaryngology does not recommend using Q-tips or other cleaning devices designed to get wax out of the inner ear.

They write that when you get wax out of your ear using a Q-tip, it would have come out on its own eventually, anyway.

And the dangers of sticking a Q-tip or another tool in too far and damaging your ear far outweigh any potential benefits.

You could:

  • Or introduce harmful bacteria into the ear

These kinds of problems are massively common.

Doctors also say that Q-tips really dont work that well, anyway.

They push more wax further into the ear canal than they remove!

Besides, ear wax has a lot of important functions in our body.

It might be kind of gross, and we certainly dont like the way it looks when its visible, but it really has some critical jobs.

Ear wax:

  • Protects our inner ears from bacteria
  • Keeps the ear canal clean and moisturized
  • Can even keep insects from crawling into your ear, believe it or not!

The bottom line is that theres really no good reason to remove ear wax by hand before its ready to come out on its own, for kids, toddlers, and adults alike.

So dont do it!

Keep extra dirt and gunk from getting into your toddlers ear with a simple wipe down using a warm washcloth a few times per week, most likely during a normal bath.

So a little soap in the ear isnt the end of the world, but theres no need to lather things up like crazy.

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What Is The Purpose Of Earwax

Earwax is an important part of the ear. You see, the reason why earwax is so thick and sticky is so it can trap dirt, dust, or other particles that may enter the ear. If there was no earwax, the ear canal would be susceptible to infections and other unwanted intruders .

Besides acting as a barrier, earwax actually holds a few chemicals that can help fight off infections. These chemicals will keep the environment inside your little ones ears healthy and happy.

The chemicals can also moisturize the skin inside the ear canal. This, in turn, will help prevent dry, itchy ears.

How Can I Remove Impacted Ear Wax

Forget Q-Tips Heres How You Should Be Cleaning Your Ears

A lot of home remedies youve heard of can be unsafe and ineffective. The old rule nothing smaller than your elbow in the ear is very true. Using ear wax candles or cotton buds to try and remove wax may only push the impacted wax further into the ear and worsen symptoms. A cotton bud pushed too deep into the canal could also cause trauma to the delicate skin lining and eardrum.

To summarise:

  • Wipe the outside of your childs ear with a facewasher or soft cloth
  • Use cotton buds only in the OUTER part of the ear never in the ear canal itself
  • Try softening drops from the local chemist should you suspect wax impaction
  • Have a health professional check your childs ears if symptoms persist

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Can You Damage The Ear If You Use A Cotton Swab Too Often Or Incorrectly

Cleaning your childs ears too much can cause the ears to be dry. This may lead to other issues, such as flakiness or itching. Earwax helps keep the ear lubricated and moisturized.

Cleaning the ears using Q-tips can also increase a childs chance of an outer ear infection, Dr. Govil adds. If the outer ear is dry, it is more prone to getting cuts, which can lead to an infection.

If you put the cotton swab too far in your childs ear, theres an increased risk of injuring the eardrum or hearing bone, which sits right behind the eardrum.

Sometimes, earwax becomes impacted, which means its completely blocking the ear canal and may be affecting your childs hearing. This can happen when the body creates too much earwax, or because use of a Q-tip has compressed the earwax inside the ear canal. If earwax is impacted, it may need to be removed by a doctor.

What Causes An Ear Infection

It might be easy to think that an infection is caused by a buildup of dirt inside the ear. However, dirt actually has little to do with these ailments.

As I mentioned above, the most common culprit of an ear infection is bacteria. Your child may be extra vulnerable during or after having a sore throat or infection in any other part of the respiratory system .

The bacteria or virus that caused the previous infection is on the hunt for a new place to live. The ear, unfortunately, provides the perfect setting for these microorganisms.

As the bacteria settles in, it triggers an inflammatory response from the body. Thus causing the symptoms of an ear infection.

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How To Clean Baby Ears Using Baby Ear Drops

If you suspect there is wax build-up inside babys ear, see your pediatrician before buying any baby earwax drops. If your pediatrician says its a good way to clean baby ears, you may get a prescription. There are also several brands sold over the counter that your doctor may recommend.

Sometimes the doctor will recommend a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution when parents ask about how to clean baby ears. As with the drops, you will want to check with your pediatrician first. If you get the green light, first fill a small, clean glass bottle half-way with hydrogen peroxide. Next, fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake it up to mix. Now youre ready to drop it into babys ears.

Whether youre using a hydrogen peroxide solution or prescription drops, there are some things to keep in mind when youre putting them in.

  • Earwax removal drops for infants should only be administered when baby is calm.
  • Rub the bottle between your hands to warm it up.
  • Fill the dropper to the appropriate level.
  • Place the dropper above the ear canal.
  • Put the liquid into the ear one drop at a time if more than one drop is necessary.
  • Try to keep baby lying still for five minutes to make sure the drops get into the ear canal.
  • How Much Earwax Is Normal

    How do I Remove Impacted Ear Wax? (with pictures)

    There is really no typical amount of earwax your baby can have in their ears. Some may have more than others, whereas there are babies that produce more in one ear than the other.

    It might be worth mentioning to your pediatrician if you often see earwax oozing from your babys ear. When a pediatrician inspects your babys ears, he or she can quickly tell if there is too much wax.

    If the doctor can see through the wax and into the eardrum, then your babys ears are fine. However, if the wax is clogging up the view, he or she will likely recommend that you use some type of drops.

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    How To Properly Clean Childrens Earwax

    Wax is a natural product produced by our ears to help keep our ears healthy and protected. The production of wax is a balancing act, however. If there’s too much of it, the ears can become blocked and hearing is reduced if there’s too little, you open the doors to viruses and bacteria. Keeping our ears clean and healthy is an important part of our daily self-care, particularly when we are caring for children. From babies to older children, it is essential for parents to make sure they follow a few guidelines to keep them safe while cleaning their ears. Here are some useful tips.

    Bathing And Cleaning A Childs Ears

    You must take advantage of bath time to check the consistency and color of your childs ear wax. It must be fine, light yellow or nearly orange. If it becomes thick and dark, you must schedule a visit to the pediatrician to rule out any problem.

    Swabs are useful for cleaning the external parts of the ear, as are cloths damp with soapy water. In both cases, you should try to hold the babys head to the side and move from the inside out.

    If water falls into the childs ears during a bath, it is necessary to tilt the head in both directions in order to remove it. That action, plus drying with a towel, will suffice.

    It is recommended to take necessary precautions to prevent water from falling inside the ear canal.

    If there is still water inside the ear, you should trust the small hairs in the area. They will prevent the liquid from entering the middle or inner ear.

    In newborns, cleaning the ear is not a routine task. As the months go by, more frequent hygiene will become necessary, and parents will learn to perform it until the child knows how to clean his ears by himself.

    13 January, 2018

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    What If Theres Too Much Earwax Buildup

    If your child does have buildup in his ear and youre not able to safely remove the earwax, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician.

    A moderate amount of earwax in a kids ear is healthy, so most of the time, ear cleaning is not needed. If your child experiences wax buildup in the ear canal, it is important you know how to clean his ears safely.

    Best Ways To Clean Your Ears

    How to remove ear wax and unclog your child’s ear

    The safest way to remove wax buildup from your ears is to visit a doctor. At your appointment, your doctor can use special instruments, like a cerumen spoon, forceps, or suction device, to clear the blockage. Many offices also offer professional irrigation.

    If you choose to try to remove wax at home, the following are the safest methods to try on your own:

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    Does Ear Candling Help With Earwax Buildup

    Dr. Govil doesnt recommend trying ear candlinga treatment that supposedly creates a low-level suction force to pull earwax and debris out of the earto remove earwax.

    Ive seen burns in the ear canal from people whove done ear candling, she shares.

    Its important to listen to your instincts. If you think your child isnt hearing well, or they are complaining about their ear feeling full, contact your childs doctor.

    Using Cotton Swabs To Clean Your Childs Ears May Land You In The Er

    Using cotton swabs to clean ears may very well be your ticket to the emergency room.

    Research shows that cotton-swab-induced mishaps are a major cause of ER visits among U.S. adults and children in need of treatment for bleeding ear canals and punctured eardrums.

    As reported in the Journal of Pediatrics, cotton swab injuries to childrens ears most often occur when children use the cotton tip applicator by themselves, followed by injuries when a parent or sibling used it clean a childs ears. The highest rate of visits to the ER for ear injuries is among children 3 and younger.

    Besides cleaning injuries, children wind up in the ER as a result of injuries from playing with cotton swabs or from falling while a swab is in their ear.

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    What Can Parents Do

    If your child complains of ear discomfort and you see earwax in the ear, it’s OK to wipe the outside of the ear with a washcloth. But don’t use a cotton swab, a finger, or anything else to poke inside the ear. It could damage the delicate ear canal and eardrum, or pack the wax in even further.

    Check with your doctor before using an over-the-counter earwax removal treatment.

    When To Call The Pediatrician

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    While some people have more earwax than others, in general the ear makes as much wax as it needs. Rarely do kids ears make too much wax. However, there are some concerns that Dr. Chavan says warrant a call to the pediatrician:

    • The child complains of ear pain, itchiness or discomfort, like a blocked feeling in the ears.
    • The child is experiencing hearing difficulties.
    • An infant or toddler tugs at their ears, which can be a sign of an ear problem.
    • The child has green earwax or yellowish green earwax, foul smelling earwax or the earwax is tinged with blood. These could be signs of an infection.

    After you seek advice from a pediatrician, they may recommend removing the earwax in some instances: its painful, itchy or uncomfortable it affects hearing or to provide a better view of the eardrum to check for problems.

    Removal typically happens in the pediatricians office, and while the process may be slightly uncomfortable, it isnt painful. Here are a few methods the provider might try:

    • They might scoop, pull or suction it out with special instruments designed for this purpose.
    • They might flush it out with warm water. Sometimes a doctor will put drops into the ear canal to soften the wax and break it down. They might also ask you do this at home and then return to the office for wax removal.

    Removal takes only a few minutes, Dr. Chavan says. If theres a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic ear drops.

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