What is Ear Wax
Earwax is a normal build-up of dead cells, hair, foreign material such as dust, and natural wax which forms a protective coating on the skin in the ear canal. The quantity of earwax produced varies greatly from person to person.
A doctor or nurse can look into the ear canal and confirm a plug of earwax has formed. A plug of earwax is not a serious problem, more a nuisance. You only need to remove earwax if it is causing symptoms such as dulled hearing or when fitting a hearing aid.
How to Remove Ear Wax
Removal with Olive Oil
Ordinary olive or almond oil can be used with a dropper bottle (available in pharmacies).
- Warm the oil by placing the dropper bottle in a cup of warm water
- Lie on your side and pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal.
- Put 2 drops of oil into the ear 2-3 times daily and massage the front of the ear gently. Wait for a few moments before sitting up.
- Continue for 2-3 weeks when the ears should become clear.
- If you have a recurrent problem with excess wax you may need to do this weekly or monthly.
- If you are still having problems please make an appointment to see the Practice Nurse for advice.
Removal With Special Drops from a Pharmacy
Your local pharmacy will stock a variety of drops that can be more effective than olive oil, and should be tried before any further treatments for ear wax.
Safer, and more effective than syringing, is microsuction. This is available through the NHS via a GP referral or privately at relatively low cost (around £50 for both ears) from local providers. A non-exhaustive selection is listed below but others are available:
- Simon Berry, Durham
- Specsavers, Durham
- Boots, Gateshead or Stockton
- Durham Hearing Care, Barnard Castle
- Ear Wax Removal UK or Ear Clear, Offers Removal at Home
In recent years there have been increasing concerns about ear syringing as a method of removing wax from the ears. Even when carried out carefully by trained staff, it can cause complications such as ear infections, perforation of the tympanic membrane, tinnitus, deafness and vertigo. Ear syringing should only be done as a last resort. In some parts of the country ear syringing is no longer available in General Practice. We offer the service, but only as a last resort.
Last modified: October 12, 2020