Earwax Blockage: Care Instructions (2024)

Earwax Blockage: Care Instructions (1)


Earwax is a natural substance that protects the ear canal. Normally, earwax drains from the ears and does not cause problems. Sometimes earwax builds up in the ear canal and hardens. Earwax blockage (also called cerumen impaction) can cause some loss of hearing and pain. When wax is tightly packed, you will need to have your doctor remove it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not try to remove earwax with cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects. This can make the blockage worse and damage the eardrum.
  • If your doctor recommends that you try to remove earwax at home:
    • Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil. You also can try hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear two times a day for up to 5 days.
    • Once the wax is loose and soft, all that is usually needed to remove it from the ear canal is a gentle, warm shower. Direct the water into the ear, then tip your head to let the earwax drain out. Use a towel to gently dry your ear.
    • If the warm mineral oil and shower do not work, use an over-the-counter wax softener. Read and follow all instructions on the label. After using the wax softener, use an ear syringe to gently flush the ear. Make sure the flushing solution is body temperature. Cool or hot fluids in the ear can cause dizziness.

When should you call for help?

Earwax Blockage: Care Instructions (2)

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Pus or blood drains from your ear.
  • Your ears are ringing or feel full.
  • You have a loss of hearing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have pain or reduced hearing after 1 week of home treatment.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as nausea or balance problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter Q495 in the search box to learn more about "Earwax Blockage: Care Instructions".

Current as of: February 28, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff

Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

Earwax Blockage: Care Instructions (2024)


What is the best way to remove ear wax blockage? ›

How can you care for yourself at home?
  1. Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil. ...
  2. Once the wax is loose and soft, all that is usually needed to remove it from the ear canal is a gentle, warm shower. ...
  3. If the warm mineral oil and shower do not work, use an over-the-counter wax softener.

How long does it take for earwax to unclog? ›

Ear drops alone will clear a plug of earwax in most cases. Put 2 or 3 drops of ordinary olive oil down the ear 2 or 3 times a day for 2-3 weeks. This softens the wax so that it then runs out of its own accord without harming the ear. You can continue for any length of time, but 3 weeks is usually enough.

What is the safe management of impacted ear wax? ›

The main approaches to removing earwax include the use of wax softeners (such as olive oil drops, sodium bicarbonate drops, or water) prior to mechanical removal using electronically controlled irrigation of the ear canal (flushing the wax out using water), or microsuction (using a vacuum to suck the wax out).

How to remove ear wax blockage fast with water and syringe? ›

You'll want to fill the syringe with warm water, place it near your ear opening, and carefully squeeze the bulb. The warm water will flood your ear and break up the wax. Turn your head to the side over a sink or bathtub to let the water (and, ideally, wax) flow out.

What dissolves impacted ear wax fast? ›

Your provider can also flush out the wax using a syringe filled with warm water and saline or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Medicated ear drops may also be recommended to help soften the wax, such as carbamide peroxide (Debrox Earwax Removal Kit, Murine Ear Wax Removal System).

How to open a blocked ear at home? ›

If your ears are plugged, try swallowing, yawning or chewing sugar-free gum to open your eustachian tubes. If this doesn't work, take a deep breath and try to blow out of your nose gently while pinching your nostrils closed and keeping your mouth shut. If you hear a popping noise, you know you have succeeded.

How to get something deep out of your ear? ›

By placing the affected ear down and gently wiggling the ear pinna, you may be able to shift the object enough to cause it to fall out. If an object becomes lodged in the ear and this technique fails, it is usually best to have it removed by a doctor who can view the object with proper lighting and instruments.

Will impacted ear wax eventually come out? ›

Will impacted ear wax fix itself? The short answer is that it is unlikely. While it is true that our ears are self-cleaning, and wax should be carried out of the ear canal naturally, if your ear wax has built up to the point that it is symptomatic, and impacted, you may need a little more help.

How to scoop out earwax? ›

Purchase a soft rubber bulb syringe made for ear cleaning, and fill it with warm water. Tilt your head to the side with a thick towel or basin below the ear. Gently squeeze the bulb so that the warm water shoots into your ear. Allow the water to run down into the towel or basin.

How do you treat severely impacted ear wax? ›

Medical Treatment for Earwax Blockage

Your doctor may use one or a combination of methods to remove your earwax: They can scoop it out with a small plastic spoon called a curette. They can irrigate your ear with warmed water, sodium bicarbonate, or other prescription-strength ear drops and flush the wax out.

How do you massage impacted ear wax? ›

Lie down on your side with the affected ear facing up. Drop 2 or 3 drops of oil or other drops (at room temperature) - into the ear canal and massage the tragus just in front of the ear and pull the pinna backwards and upwards.

How long does it take for mineral oil to soften ear wax? ›

To soften ear wax, take the following steps:3. Warm mineral oil, baby oil, or glycerin to body temperature. Tilt your head, then place a few drops of the warm oil into the affected ear. Repeat that process twice daily for five days or until the ear wax softens.

How do you get rid of earwax in 30 seconds? ›

Soak a cotton ball with the hydrogen peroxide. Tilt your head and drip the peroxide into your ear. You may hear it fizz as it tries to dissolve the earwax. After about 30 seconds, drain your ear onto a washcloth.

How do you unclog severe ear wax? ›

Earwax removal tips

Instead, soak a cotton ball and drip a few drops of plain water, a simple saline solution, or hydrogen peroxide into the ear with your head tilted so the opening of the ear is pointing up. Keep it in that position for a minute to allow gravity to pull the fluid down through the wax.

How to syringe out ear wax? ›

Hold the nozzle inside the ear canal (not too deeply) and gently squirt the water from the bulb syringe into the ear. You can gently squirt more water into the ear if needed. Leave the water in your ear for 1-3 minutes to soften the wax. Tilt your head over the sink so the water can fall out.

How to get water out of your ear that won't come out? ›

Pull down on your ear gently to help straighten the ear canal with one hand and with the other, use the hairdryer on the cool setting to dry out your ear. Chew, yawn, shake and tug. When water gets stuck, move your mouth and jaw around to help move your TMJ, or jaw joint, which is connected to your ear canal.

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