Earwax build-up left untreated can affect us in various ways, most commonly it can cause hearing loss until removed, for some, it can cause irritation or pain in the ear and in more severe cases result in tinnitus.
The trend of using hydrogen peroxide to dissolve earwax has gone viral on the social media platform TikTok, but does it work, and more importantly, is it even safe?
Katie Ogden, the HCPC registered hearing aid dispenser and Training Manager for ReSound in North-West Europe, explains some of the risks involved with using this method of earwax removal, and why those tempted to try out the hack themselves should think twice:
A certain amount of earwax is needed to protect your ears
The majority of people’s ears produce just enough earwax required to protect the ears against any nasty infections or water penetration, meaning removing earwax manually is not only unnecessary but can actually be harmful.
It can cause irritation and inflammation
Frequently using, or the overuse of hydrogen peroxide to soften earwax and remove it, can cause irritation to the skin inside of the ear and even lead to unwanted effects like inflammation of the inner ear and earaches.
Hydrogen peroxide should only be given in careful doses
Hydrogen peroxide can often be found in earwax removal drops in a small carefully dosed percentage. However, those using undiluted hydrogen peroxide on their ears to remove earwax can actually be causing significant harm, as the solution in full concentration can be abrasive to the skin inside of the ear.
The risk of dizziness
Anyone that suffers from damage within the inner ear or a perforated eardrum should not use hydrogen peroxide or any other solution to clean their ears. That’s because the liquid could penetrate the gap in the skin and get stuck behind it which can cause dizziness and inner ear conditions like vertigo.
Adding any liquid to your ear, including hydrogen peroxide, can add unnecessary moisture to the ear that can linger afterward, if not dried properly. This can lead to a bacterial ear infection known as Swimmer’s Ear or medically known as otitis externa, which occurs as a result of moisture containing bacteria staying in the ear canal for too long.