Earwax Blockage (Cerumen Impaction): Symptoms, Causes & Removal (2024)

How do you get rid of impacted earwax?

Impacted cerumen treatments involve both at-home and in-office methods, including:

  • Solutions that dissolve earwax.
  • Ear irrigation.
  • In-office earwax removal.

Talk to your healthcare provider before trying any treatment.

Clean your ears properly

Clean the outside of your ear with a washcloth. After showering or bathing, dry your ears as much as possible.

You should never, under any circ*mstances, put anything inside your ear canal — including cotton swabs. Not only can using cotton swabs damage your eardrum, but it can also encourage your ears to make more earwax. (Learn more about why you should avoid cotton swabs in “Additional Common Questions” below.)

Use solutions to dissolve earwax

You can use cerumenolytic solutions (solutions to dissolve wax) in your ear canal. These solutions include:

  • Saline solution.
  • Baby oil.
  • Glycerin.
  • Mineral oil.
  • Hydrogen peroxide or peroxide-based ear drops (such as Debrox®).

With these solutions, you put a few drops into the affected ear and lie on the opposite side. This way, the solution can drip into your affected ear. These oils should be used sparingly. If using an over-the-counter earwax removal, follow the directions provided.

Ear irrigation

Another option is irrigating or syringing your ear. This involves using a syringe to rinse out your ear canal with water or saline solution. Generally, you should soften the wax first by using a cerumenolytic solution. Then, you’ll gently irrigate your ear with a bulb syringe.

In-office earwax removal

Finally, your healthcare provider can remove earwax manually using special instruments. They might use a cerumen spoon, forceps, irrigation or a suction device. Generally, these procedures only take a few minutes to complete.

Earwax Blockage (Cerumen Impaction): Symptoms, Causes & Removal (2024)


Earwax Blockage (Cerumen Impaction): Symptoms, Causes & Removal? ›

Impacted earwax causes discomfort such as irritation, blockage, hard of hearing, earache, noise in the ear or head, and dizziness. [2,10,11] The habit of toileting the ear using objects which pushes in wax such as cotton tipped swab, pin, and hearing aid predisposed to earwax impaction.

What are the symptoms of earwax blockage? ›

Impacted earwax symptoms may include:
  • A feeling of fullness in your ear.
  • Pain in your ear (earache).
  • Hearing loss, which may worsen over time.
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
  • Itchiness in your ears.
  • Discharge or odor coming from your ears.
  • Dizziness.

How do you fix impaction in ear wax? ›

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).

What is the cause of impacted ear wax? ›

At the opening, it's washed away or falls out as new wax replaces it. If your ears make too much wax or if earwax isn't cleared well enough, it may build up and block your ear canal. Earwax blockages often happen when people try to get earwax out on their own by using cotton swabs or other items in their ears.

What is the best treatment for impacted cerumen? ›

A commonly prescribed cerumenolytic is carbamide peroxide. Five to 10 drops are placed twice daily for up to four days. The drops work by releasing oxygen to soften and encourage spontaneous extrusion of cerumen and also have a weak antibacterial effect.

How to flush out ear wax? ›

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.

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.

What dissolves ear wax immediately? ›

If the aim is to completely break down the wax, waxsol, peroxide 3% or a sodium bicarbonate solution (which can be prepared by your local pharmacist) is effective.

Can I remove impacted ear wax myself? ›

You can remove earwax at home using 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Tilt your head to the side and drip 5 to 10 drops of hydrogen peroxide into your ear. Keep your head tilted to the side for 5 minutes to allow the peroxide to penetrate the wax.

Can you flush out impacted ear wax? ›

It involves using a rubber bulb syringe to squirt water or a saline solution into the ear canal. When the water or solution drains out of the ear, it also flushes out loose ear wax. Use wax-softening ear drops before rinsing out your ear for the best results. And be sure to warm the solution to your body temperature.

Will deep earwax eventually come out? ›

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.

What happens if impacted ear wax is not removed? ›

What happens if earwax is not removed? It's possible for unremoved earwax to lead to an ear infection like swimmer's ear, causing worsening symptoms such as: severe pain, itchiness, drainage, fever, coughing and dizziness. If you notice signs of infection, you should make an appointment to see your primary care doctor.

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.

Does hydrogen peroxide dissolve ear wax? ›

The medical term for earwax is cerumen, and hydrogen peroxide is a cerumenolytic, which means that it can soften, break down, and dissolve earwax. Ear drops can contain a variety of forms of hydrogen peroxide. A common type is carbamide hydroxide, which adds oxygen to the wax, causing it to bubble.

Is hydrogen peroxide good for ear wax? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is a solution (liquid) that can be used to treat ear infections or the build-up of wax. It is generally safe to use in all ears. Do not use if it irritates you or causes pain. You can buy 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide from your local chemist – no prescription is required.

What works better, Debrox or hydrogen peroxide? ›

Dr. Taylor notes she recently surveyed a group of 220 fellow audiologists, and nearly 80% of them said they preferred for patients to use an over-the-counter product like Debrox EarWax Removal Drops instead of using hydrogen peroxide for at-home wax removal. Debrox uses carbamide peroxide as its active ingredient.

How do I know if I need ear wax removal? ›

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.

Does impacted earwax go away by itself? ›

Ear wax may go away on its own over time. If you have symptoms of impacted earwax, treatment includes: Ear drops. Rinsing (done by a medical professional)

Will a clogged ear go away by itself? ›

But a clogged ear is typically temporary, and your ear will likely clear on its own within a few hours or days depending on the cause: Fluid: If your ears are clogged by water or another fluid, they will often clear quickly. Air pressure: If the blockage is caused by air pressure, it may take a few days to go away.

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