In spite of most people growing up cleaning their ears with cotton swabs, the medical community has made it very clear over the last few years that this is not a safe practice. Puncturing your eardrum or pushing the gunk deeper into your ear canal isn’t good.
Even so, earwax stays the same, so sometimes you want to remove it as soon as possible. One woman’s use of hydrogen peroxide to clean out her ears went viral on TikTok in August 2021.
As of October 2022, Ayisha Friedman-Negrín (@ayishafrita) has 2.7 million followers on TikTokfor demonstrating “how to properly clean ur ears.”
She lies on a towel with one ear facing up, lying face down. Hydrogen peroxide is poured into her ear, and she waits a moment. Then, she says, “It’s just going to bubble up in there.”. It involves separating all the wax and flipping it so it all falls out.
She covered her exposed ear with a towel, flipped her head over, and let the earwax drain from her ear after “the sizzling calmed down” She meant “bubbling.”.
There were plenty of questions in the comments. ‘I’d like to consult a doctor before trying this,’ another said. Someone else wrote, “I’m getting conflicting reviews about this.”.
So what’s the deal? Can hydrogen peroxide be used to remove earwax from your ears? The short answer is that it’s complicated, and let’s talk about it.
Is It Necessary To Clean Your Ears?
You don’t need to clean your ears often or ever. It is reported that most people don’t have to do anything, according to Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ear, nose, and throat specialist Scott B. Shapiro, MD.
Dr. Shapiro explained that your earwax, or cerumen, serves a purpose. In addition to protecting your ear canal from dust, germs, and small objects, it prevents dust from entering your ear.
Usually, earwax will either fall out or ooze over time or wash away in the shower, said Erin McNeely, MD, a Spectrum Health internal medicine physician. “Your ears clean themselves,” said McNeely.
Can You Clean Your Ears With Hydrogen Peroxide?
In a sense. Dr. Shapiro recommends that people dilute it. Dr. McNeely warned that it could irritate the skin and eardrum in your ear canal if you’re using hydrogen peroxide at regular strength. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide if you have infections, pain, or a perforated eardrum.
Would you like to try this hack if your ears are otherwise healthy? John Dobrowski, MD, an otolaryngologist at Harvard Medical School and an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Mass Eye and Ear, suggested mixing hydrogen peroxide with water. Hence, it’s less abrasive on the ears. Next, use a dropper or pour a little in gently. After about ten seconds, shake your head over to let it drain, according to Dr. Shapiro.
Aftercare is just as important as the procedure: “If used, you should thoroughly dry the ear afterward,” explained Dr. Dobrowski. Otomycosis is caused by fungal infections in the ear canal, which damp environments may cause.
Dr. Shapiro recommends applying a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil to your ears after cleaning them.
How Can You Maintain Earwax Properly?
According to Dr. Dobrowski, an otolaryngologist can help you if you need to clean out your ears regularly.
Dr. Dobrowski explained that an otolaryngologist could examine the ear and prescribe lotion, drops, or steroid oil to minimize crusting and flaking. However, if you clean your ears excessively at home, you will likely experience more problems because the ears are very sensitive.
The average person can clean out their ears infrequently. Dr. Shapiro said earwax is similar to the oils on your skin. If you wash it away, you could get infected or irritated.
So, unless you have trouble hearing or are bothered by your earwax, Dr. Shapiro advises not cleaning your ears. Dr. Shapiro said it’s overkill for most people.
Mixing half hydrogen peroxide and half water will clean your ears, but it isn’t necessary. It is common for the ears to keep themselves clean on their own. Get in touch with a healthcare professional if you constantly care for your ears.