The ear canal is a small canal, forming part of the outer ear, which connects the auricle with the middle ear, ending at the level of the tympanic membrane. Together with the auricle it collects sound waves and conveys them to the eardrum. In the first portion of its walls, there are hairs and, immediately afterwards, the glands that produce cerumen, a substance with a protective and lubricating function. The particular conformation of the auditory duct, which is inclined downwards towards the outside, favors the spontaneous elimination of earwax.
Normally, therefore, there is no need for special maneuvers to eliminate the wax, in fact, daily washing with water and soap is more than enough.
Cleaning of the auricle must be done every day, with water and non-aggressive soap, avoiding using the hair dryer as the hot air dries the duct too much. On the contrary, the ear canal must be cleaned less frequently, limiting cleaning only to the first part, just a very simple cotton handkerchief, and carefully avoiding to introduce any object (cotton swabs, hairpins, etc.).
Never use towels, toilet paper, foreign bodies such as cotton buds and the like because you risk producing traumas both on the duct and on the tympanic membrane. The abrasions of the duct or the more important ones of the membrane of the eardrum can be an access route for bacteria or fungi resulting in an ear infection. The internal dirt must be removed with the end of a cotton handkerchief, avoiding to push the earwax inwards, they create a cap. The ear cleaning sticks should never be pushed deep, but limit their use to the auricle. Their improper use can push the earwax towards the eardrum, cause wounds in the duct or even cause perforation of the tympanic membrane. In some cases, membrane perforation can be associated with a dislocation of the ossicular chain with a significant drop in hearing, dizziness and tinnitus.
The slight wounds of the external auditory canal are frequent and resolve in a few days without any consequence, although they can scare the patient because they are painful and can cause the ear to bleed. In this case, you must be careful not to get your ears wet and do not take further cleaning. If the lesion is minimal, treatment with antibiotics and medicated ear drops is sufficient to determine healing; if, on the contrary, the eardrum is damaged it is necessary to intervene surgically, even if not in all the patients a return to the auditory capacity can be obtained prior to the trauma.
There are some anatomical conditions or true and proper pathologies of the auditory canal that can favor the accumulation of ear wax and the formation of a real plug, with consequent closure of the duct and the onset of an annoying sensation of aurication and loss of hearing. In these cases you can start by trying to remove the cap by directing the hot water jet of the shower towards the ear canal, this operation must last at least thirty seconds. If in spite of everything, the excess of cerumen remains, you can use emollient drops that dissolve the cerumen and facilitate its exit. The most common drops may contain natural or essential oils or contain hydrogen peroxide or glycerine. In the case of particular anatomical conditions of the external auditory canal, small or excessive wax production, the removal of the cap is the responsibility of the specialist. Usually the removal is carried out with the classic washing, with the use of a "hook" or with aspiration.
If you want to try to prevent the formation of the earwax cap, you can use ear sprays that have the function of keeping clean the ear canal from the debris produced by the ear canal itself and from the dust that comes from the outside.