Ask the Hearing Doctor
Question: Dr. Decelles, why is it that people say never to use Q-tips in my ears?
Answer: People ask me this all the time! They even go on to say that, “It feels so good to clean my ears with a Q-tip after my shower.”
The old rule is that the only thing you should ever place in your ear (aside from prescribed hearing aids) is your elbow. The joke of course is that most people can’t get their elbow into their ear, so that settles that.
In all seriousness, the ear canal is a special environment made up of cells that produce ear wax, which is actually a protective fluid that keeps your ears safe from other irritants. Using a Q-tip can push the wax further into the ear where it may become stuck. You can also puncture your eardrum if a Q-tip is inserted too far into the canal. When using a Q-tip you also risk damaging the tiny hair cells that receive the vibrations in the sounds around you and send them to the brain via the hearing nerve. Finally, if you use Q-tips, you can strip away the ear wax that protects your ears from irritants that cause infections and other concerns.
I know, I know – but your ears are wet and you want to dry them. If at all possible, allow your ears to naturally dry. If the feeling is bothering you, set your hair dryer on air-only and blow the air into your ears until the water dissipates.
As for the outer ear, it’s perfectly fine to wash it with a washcloth … and don’t forget the area behind your ears!
If you have questions about your hearing, don’t hesitate to call for an appointment with Dr. Decelles and her team: 888-928-2880.