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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Gardner

Earwax Removal Practices Across the Globe: A Closer Look

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced

by the ear to prot ect its delicate components. While it serves an essential purpose, excessive earwax can lead to discomfort, impaired hearing, and even ear infections. The methods used to remove earwax vary widely across different cultures and regions, reflecting a blend of modern medicine, traditional practices, and personal preferences.

Earwax Removal Methods by Region

1. Western Countries:

In Western countries like the United States and European nations, earwax removal is often performed by medical professionals. General practitioners and ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists use a range of tools, such as curettes and suction devices, to safely remove excessive earwax. In recent years, clinics have also adopted microsuction, a method that utilizes a microscope and a low-pressure suction device for precision removal.

2. Asia:

Asian countries have a rich history of traditional medicine, and many people still rely on these methods for earwax removal. In China and India, Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use herbal oils and decoctions to soften and remove earwax. Warm sesame oil is often poured into the ear canal to dislodge the wax naturally.

3. Middle East:

In Middle Eastern cultures, olive oil is a popular remedy for earwax removal. Olive oil is warmed and then applied into the ear canal to soften the wax. This method is favored due to the abundance of olive trees in the region and the soothing properties of the oil.

4. Africa:

African communities often have their own unique approaches to earwax removal. In some regions, hot

water is poured into the ear to dissolve the wax. Additionally, certain plant extracts with soothing properties are used to soften the earwax.

5. Indigenous Practices:

Indigenous communities around the world have their own traditional methods for earwax removal. These methods are often passed down through generations and may involve natural substances, such as plant extracts or specific techniques for ear manipulation.

Modern Challenges and Precautions

While various methods are used globally, it's important to note that improper earwax removal can lead to complications, including impacted earwax and damage to the delicate ear structures. Modern medical guidelines emphasize the importance of seeking professional advice for earwax-related issues. Q-tips and other small objects are discouraged due to the risk of pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal.


Earwax removal practices around the world are a fascinating blend of cultural traditions and modern medical knowledge. While different regions have their own preferred methods, the underlying goal is the same: to ensure optimal ear health and maintain clear hearing. It's important to strike a balance between respecting cultural practices and seeking professional guidance to ensure safe and effective earwax removal.

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