What Is Ear Wax?


Quick Answer

Ear wax is a water-soluble substance that the human ear produces; it is not actually made of wax. Ear wax is made up of various secretions, hair and dead skin cells. The body produces ear wax naturally to maintain and protect the ear canal. The lack of sufficient ear wax can cause irritation in the ear canal.

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Full Answer

Common belief that the ear canal must be clear of ear wax is a misconception. Cleaning out ear wax can cause harm to the ear instead of doing anything to help it. Because ear wax is meant to protect the ear canal, clearing it out can result in an itchy and irritated ear canal. Additionally, the use of pointed objects to clear out ear wax can cause harm to the ear due to accidental pokes and the risk of rupturing the ear.

The only time when ear wax should be cleared out is when there is an unnatural build-up that hinders hearing or otherwise causes discomfort. When this happens, a medical professional is required to handle the problem safely. This problem may have symptoms such as earaches or a progressive loss of hearing, and can also result in infection symptoms such as itching and odor.

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