Our earwax plays an important role in the health of your ear. Not only does it lubricate the ear canal to prevent the skin from drying out and becoming irritated, it also traps debris and germs.
Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe it needs to be removed.
This isn’t true. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, “Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes a hearing impairment or other ear-related symptoms. The accumulation of wax occurs for many different reasons, including the over- or under-production of its constituent components, a failure to self-clear because of slow skin migration, or mechanical issues such as the use of cotton buds or hearing aids.”
The color of your earwax can also indicate information about the health of your ear. We review what the color of your earwax means below.
White, Flaky Earwax
White, flaky earwax is healthy and normal. Believe it or not, it also may be an indicator you lack a certain body-odor-producing chemical.
Yellow, Sticky Earwax
Yellow, sticky earwax is also healthy. As opposed to white, flaky earwax, yellow, sticky earwax may indicate you do have the body-odor-producing chemical and probably need to wear deodorant.
Orange or Light Brown Earwax
Orange or light brown earwax is normal, too. The darker color indicates the wax is older and has trapped more debris. If you have earwax falling out of your ear canal and into your ear bowl, it’s probably this color.
Dark Brown or Red Earwax
Dark brown or red-tinged earwax likely contains blood. It is often the sign of an injury within the ear, such as a minor scratch in the ear canal or a ruptured eardrum.
Black earwax indicates your earwax is impacted. You can try to soften the wax with eardrops from Wheatridge Pharmacy on West 38th Street and irrigate your ears in the shower. Never use cotton swabs to try to remove impacted earwax. If this doesn’t help, see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician to have your ears professionally cleaned.
Runny or Cloudy Earwax
Runny or cloudy earwax is usually a sign of some type of ear infection. It’s important to see an expert ENT physician at Advantage ENT & Audiology if you suspect an infection in order to prevent permanent damage.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Advantage ENT & Audiology today.