Cerumen (Earwax): What is it and how do I Manage it?

The production of earwax is normal and an important biological occurrence. Earwax is a brown-yellowish sticky substance that functions to protect the tissues of the ear canal and the tympanic membrane from dirt and foreign particles. The amount of earwax production is variable and can increase as you age. When a significant amount of ear wax has accumulated in the ear canal leading to an obstruction, cerumen management is typically employed.

Cerumen management is performed in an effort to remove the earwax and debris obstructing the ear canal. The most common method of cerumen management is the use of such instruments as curettes, wax spoons, and forceps, but some clinicians use irrigation or suction. At home, the use of a couple of drops of room temperature oil into the ear canal to aid in the moistening of earwax can be employed. The insertion of any tool into the ear canal, such as Q-tips, is not recommended.