Earwax buildup in children can be common, but it’s essential that home cleaning methods don’t lead to injury or damage of their ears. Inserting any object – cotton swabs and finger tips included – into their ear canal may cause infection or perforate their eardrum, leading to infection or perforating the perforation barrier and even perforating an eardrum rupture.
Before trying to remove earwax yourself, seek advice from your pediatrician about safe and effective methods for softening it at home.
What is Ear Wax?
When children’s ear canals are healthy, they produce and shed natural earwax on a regular basis, which lubricates and protects their canal. If their canal becomes blocked with excess earwax it could indicate something is amiss and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Children should never attempt to remove earwax on their own. The delicate ear canal and eardrum can be injured or even ruptured by sticking cotton swabs, fingers, or paperclips into the canal, potentially causing injury and bloodshed as well as pushing further in the wax, possibly leading to an infection inflicting hearing problems in turn.
Applying over-the-counter earwax removal drops or placing hydrogen peroxide (a 50:50 mixture of water and vinegar) directly in the ear canal can soften wax deposits so they can be easily removed with a cloth. Steam from showering or bathing may also help soften them; be sure to follow all package directions!
In some instances, impacted earwax needs to be professionally removed in a doctor’s office. Your healthcare provider can advise on what steps should be taken at home in order to prevent the buildup of earwax as well as when and how often visits should take place at their office.
Doctors can use special tools to remove hardened earwax. Rinsing or irrigating with water or saline solution, using a syringe, and/or using cerumenolytic agents may soften and remove hardened earwax before flushing out your ear canal with irrigation fluids is also an option.
Children who have had previous ear infections, tubes or have holes in their eardrum should see a doctor for removal of earwax. Professional removal should always be sought instead of trying it yourself at home, since improper removal could lead to pain, drainage, itching and infection in their ears. Furthermore, a physician can advise whether earplugs or hearing aids would best fit with your child’s symptoms and lifestyle needs.
Why Do Children Get Ear Wax Buildup?
Ear wax is a naturally-occurring component of our bodies that protects and cleans our ears, often moving on its own from outer ear canal to eardrum and back out in small bits. When ears become irritated, irritated ears may lead to hard and sticky buildup of earwax that must be professionally removed to avoid an earache or other related symptoms in children. If symptoms such as itching, pain, ringing in ears, trouble hearing, tugging on ears or clogged feeling exist within children it is important for parents or guardians to consult their pediatrician or ENT specialist immediately.
Your healthcare provider may suggest using ear drops to soften and dislodge ear wax from your ears, helping it fall out. They do not advise removing it at home using cotton swabs or other items as this could push further wax into their ear canal and even perforate their eardrum. They will also advise against ear candling which involves placing one end of a cone-like device into one ear while it’s lit on fire to create an artificial vacuum and claim to remove earwax; this method is untrustworthy and could cause burns among other complications.
When removing earwax in a doctor’s office, they use a device known as a curette or cerumen spoon to carefully scoop it out without harming either the ear canal or eardrum. They may also perform ear irrigation by flushing with water or another liquid and sucking out what has loosened in order to suction out of their ears any loose earwax that accumulates there.
When it comes to kids and ear wax removal, the ideal approach is often leaving it alone to see how it naturally falls out. Avoid placing anything other than water into their ears during bath time and don’t attempt to manually extract earwax using cotton swabs or similar objects. If your child displays symptoms of excessive earwax buildup, please speak to their healthcare provider about how best to assist.
How Do I Clean My Child’s Ears?
Ear canal and eardrum structures are extremely delicate and can easily become injured if foreign objects enter them. Children must be taught not to insert cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects into their ears without supervision and even adults should avoid trying to clean their earwax with cotton swabs as this may push it back into the canal and become impaction.
Encourage your child to use a soft washcloth to wipe the exterior of their ears using gentle strokes, such as with mineral oil or baby oil to soften wax and make its exit more natural. However, resist any temptation to stick anything into their ears yourself or their own. Remember that children often mimic what their parents do so you do not want them learning it is okay to stick anything into their ears either!
Signs that indicate too much earwax could include pain, itching, tugging at their ears or feeling as if something is stuck inside their ear canals. In such an instance it would be wise to visit their doctor immediately in order to receive an accurate evaluation and removal plan of this buildup of wax.
Do not attempt to remove earwax at home using drops or remedies purporting to be safe and effective. Doing so can lead to impaction of earwax, infection in the ear canal and/or damage to your child’s eardrum.
Doing it on your own can result in ruptured eardrums. If you notice signs of an earwax blockage or buildup in your child’s ears, make an appointment with their pediatrician or pediatric ENT for professional inspection with an otoscope; these devices can examine their ear canal without causing discomfort to either them or you! ScopeAround digital otoscopes come equipped with special scrapers designed specifically to safely clear away excess wax without harming either canal or drum.
What Should I Do If My Child Has Ear Wax?
Children should see either a pediatrician or an otolaryngologist (specialist in ears, noses and throats) if they develop an excess of earwax. An in-office procedure allows a physician to safely extract it with special instruments without harming their canal or eardrum; they might first place some drops to soften up the wax before using a tool such as cerumen spoon or curette to extract it.
Cotton swabs or paperclips should never be used to attempt to clean out your child’s earwax, as this can easily result in damaging his/her ear canal and/or eardrum. It may even prove fatal.
Instead of trying to remove earwax on your own, speak with a pediatrician or an otolaryngologist about safe and effective home earwax removal options for your child. Some pediatricians may recommend solutions like ear-wax softeners or irrigation while others will opt for in-office cleanings as needed.
Ear-wax softeners can be found at most pharmacies and usually contain water-based solutions like hydrogen peroxide, glycerin or sterile saline. There are also natural oils derived from peanut and olive oils to provide softening capabilities; however, many doctors do not advise the use of home earwax removal solutions as these could potentially cause infections in children.
Some parents resort to using a bulb syringe in order to flush out their children’s earwax, which could potentially prove hazardous for young children as hardened earwax could rupture the eardrum and potentially result in serious hearing damage.
If you want to try irrigation at home, purchase a soft rubber syringe or bulb from the pharmacy and seek advice from your child’s healthcare provider before beginning. Do not attempt ear irrigation on your own as doing so may result in an earwax impaction and result in injury to their ears.
If your child is experiencing excessive earwax production or experiencing symptoms such as itchy ears, pain in their ears or hearing loss, seek advice from either their pediatrician or an otolaryngologist immediately. An expert will be able to identify whether their wax is causing issues and should be removed or should stay as is.