Ear wax removal

Ear wax is an oily substance produced by glands at the entrance to the ear canal. Healthy ears produce wax in order to protect and lubricate the skin inside the ear and it does not normally need to be removed.

Excessive wax may need removing if it has caused:

  • dulled hearing
  • itchiness/discomfort
  • problems with hearing aid use.

Wax may also be removed to allow proper examination of the ear canal and eardrum by an Audiologist or ENT specialist.

How will the ear wax be removed?

Ear wax will be removed via one of two possible methods:

Jobson Horn Probe – This is a thin metal instrument with a small loop on the end. The looped end is carefully inserted into the ear to remove wax.

Propulse Irrigation – This is a gentle irrigation system using warm water to dislodge and flush out the wax. The water is directed towards the sides of the ear canal rather than the eardrum to make the procedure as safe and as comfortable as possible. You will be asked to hold a bowl under your ear to catch the water. A Jobson Horn wrapped with cotton wool is then used to gently dry the ear.

What do I need to do before having my ears de-waxed?

There are many different types of eardrops for wax sold over-the-counter but these may irritate the skin and cause soreness in some people. We recommend that you use olive oil before attending the De-wax Clinic. Olive oil is a gentle lubricant which lubricates both the skin and the wax plug so making it easier and more comfortable for the Audiologist to remove.

Using olive oil drops

Repeat the following procedure for two or three nights before coming to the de-wax clinic.

  • Lie down on your side with the ear that you want to put the drops in facing upwards
  • Pull the outer ear backwards and upwards to open and straighten the ear canal
  • Drop two or three drops of room temperature olive oil into the ear and then massage the skin just in front of the entrance to the ear canal. This helps the oil run down the ear canal and get to the wax
  • Stay lying down for 5-10 minutes to allow the oil to soak in and have a tissue handy to wipe away any oil that trickles out of your ear when you lift your head
  • DO NOT put cotton wool in your ear afterwards as this will soak up the oil and prevent it from softening the wax effectively. It is a good idea to put an old towel on your pillow to prevent staining
  • Repeat for the other ear if required.

It is usually possible to successfully remove ear wax in one visit. If the Audiologist is unable to remove the wax in one go you may be advised to continue using olive oil for a little longer before re-booking another appointment in the de-wax clinic.

One drop of oil inserted into each ear once a week following wax removal maintains the gentle lubrication of both the skin and the wax, which encourages natural wax movement out of the ear canal and should reduce the need for wax removal in the future.

Please note cotton buds should never be used to remove wax. They can damage the ear canal, cause infection and push wax deeper into the ear, making it more difficult to remove.

If you have any questions regarding your appointment please contact the Audiology Department on 01922 721172 ext. 7628.