Got earwax? Step away from the cotton swabs.

Earwax Dos & Don’ts. Hint: Hold the Cotton Swabs!

Earwax, that yellowish-brown goo, might inspire an “Ick!” or two, but managing it the right way can make a difference in your hearing health.

Here’s a primer on why you have earwax and what to do about it.

Why is earwax in your ear?

Earwax, or “cerumen,” results from secretions by the ceruminous glands in the outer ear canal. The secretions help lubricate the ear canal and help maintain an acidic environment that curbs harmful bacteria and fungi.

Life without earwax would be a lot less comfortable: It not only helps keep the ear canal clean but prevents dirt and other debris from reaching and potentially damaging the eardrum. In addition, earwax can help keep ears from feeling itchy and dry.

When should earwax be removed?

Normally you needn’t remove earwax; your ears will naturally handle that function by pushing out the excess.

Sometimes the glands may …

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