Is it safe to use cotton swabs in the ears?

Center for Hearing of Huntsville

It’s never a good idea to stick cotton swabs or any objects in your ears. You could possibly damage your inner ear, including the tiny bones that help you hear.

But what If your ear canal is itchy? There could be several reasons for that, one is earwax .  Wax buildup is a body’s way of cleaning dead skin cells and dirt out of your ears, but too much wax can make them itch.

Many people are tempted to try to remove the buildup with a cotton swab, but that pushes the wax deeper inside the canal, where it could get stuck. Instead, try using over-the-counter ear drops that break up the wax. If that doesn’t help, see your doctor. They can use a special tool to safely remove built-up wax.

Another reason for itchy ears is an infection. When an individual has a cold, the flu or allergies, bacteria and viruses may cause the infection. Another cause, referred to as swimmer’s ear, can happen when water stays in your ear after you swim. Too much moisture in the ear wears away the ear canal’s natural layer of defense against germs.

In order to stop the itch, the infection needs to be treated. Although some may go away on their own, your doctor could prescribe ear drops to treat the infection. Some infections may additionally need to be treated with a course of antibiotics.

An itch inside the ear may also be caused by an allergic reaction. Hairstyling products can sometimes irritate the skin, or earbuds, a hearing aid or even earrings, especially those that contain nickel.

So if you can’t stop scratching your ears, and an over-the-counter product doesn’t stop it, see your doctor.

Center for Hearing of Huntsville

7531 Memorial Parkway South #C

Huntsville, Ala.

256.489.7700