The whole truth about cleaning ears with cotton swabs
You’ve probably came across this statement more than once - that cleaning ears with cotton buds involves the risk of hurting yourself.
Is this true?
We are happy to answer this question.
Invented in 1926, cotton buds were never intended to be used as a tool for cleaning ears. By design, we should use cotton buds to clean the narrow corners of various devices where access is severely limited or for more common cosmetic touch-ups.
How did it start?
The wife of the inventor, Leo Gerstenzang, often used toothpicks wrapped in cotton wool to clean various things around the house or to apply various preparations during baby care. Who would have thought that from this idea would grow one of the world's best-selling products commonly called "q-tips".
Cotton swabs were advertised from the beginning as a cosmetic product, in fact as an ear hygiene tool. It was not until the 1970s, however, that the packaging included information that the sticks should not be inserted directly into the ear canal. From the beginning, manufacturers had in mind using them to clean the auricle. In 1990, a "Washington Post" journalist complained that cleaning the ears without putting the stick inside was like telling people to hold a cigarette in their mouth but not light it. Perhaps he was right, after all, millions of people around the world continue to use ear buds to clean their ear canals despite the lack of such recommendations, and even with a direct prohibition printed on the label.
Why is this highly inadvisable?
Inserting q-tips into the ear canal only gives the false impression of cleaning the ears, because the stick pushes the wax further into the canal, which results in irritation of the eardrum rather than cleaning the canal. This practice can result in hearing deterioration, perforation of the eardrum which leads to infection, and ear wax clogging. Few people realize that the ear is a self-cleaning organ, and earwax serves primarily to keep the surface of the ear canal clean and moist. A proper amount of earwax draws debris away from the eardrum and has an antibacterial effect, it also prevents foreign bodies, bacteria and fungi from entering the ear canal.
So why can't people quit using cotton swabs improperly?
The ear has densely dotted nerve endings, the stimulation of which is capable of producing pleasurable sensations that lead to the formation of addiction.
So how do we clean our ears properly?
Of course, we use cotton buds, but only to clean the outer part of the auricle. Moreover, to remove excess ear wax, it is recommended to rinse the ear with warm water and to apply a few drops of olive oil or hydrogen peroxide. You can also reach for proven preparations, which are available at any pharmacy.