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What Causes Ear Wax?

Published 30 January 2018  | Updated 07 December 2022  | 3 mins read

Getting your ears professionally cleaned is a part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Just like visiting the dentist or having regular eye tests, your ears also need a little TLC every so often, and ear wax removal is a good place to start. It takes a matter of moments and can leave you hearing better than before! But when you spend the time getting ear wax removed, it’s common to ask: what causes ear wax? Why do we have it, when we need to remove it to keep our ears healthy? We’re here to sum-up what it is, where it came from – and why you shouldn’t remove it yourself!

What is ear wax?

Ear wax, also know as cerumen, is a sticky, yellowish protective substance made by our ears. Most ear wax is 20%-50% oil, which comes from the outer ear canal.

Why do we have ear wax?

Ear wax is formed for a reason – to protect the health of your ears. The oily nature of ear wax means it acts as a barrier from water-bound irritants like water and soaps, whilst being able to stick to dust and dirt particles. This also protects microorganisms and bacteria entering your system, so a little ear wax is certainly beneficial to have.

What causes ear wax?

Ear wax is the combination of what is produced from your ceremonious and sebaceous glands in your outer ear canal. If your ears didn’t produce ear wax, your ears would be dry and prone to infections as they will be lacking their protective coating. If you think your ears are producing more wax than they should, there could be a couple of things increasing the production of ear wax. Frequent use of in-ear headphones can be a trigger, or self-cleaning your ears too much can also cause increased levels. This is similar to the way in which the more you wash your hair, the more it feels oily and in need of a wash – the more you clean your ears, the more wax is created. Removing ear wax with cotton buds can also push wax deeper in to your ear canal, causing blockages and even impairing your hearing in some cases.

Get in touch

The safest way to remove excess ear wax is to let our audiologists do it for you. We offer several ear wax removal methods, including microsuction, which are used according to your individual needs. Your audiologist will also be able to answer any questions you may have. If you have concerns over the health of your ears, or you think you could benefit from professional ear wax removal, you can book an appointment with your nearest THCP practice online or call us on 0800 52 00 546.