Ear Infection

Many individuals clean their ears with cotton swabs, which are frequently done to remove earwax from the ear canal. While using a cotton swab to wipe the outside of your ear is harmless, it’s preferable to avoid using one within your ear. Cotton swabs can cause ear infections, and use within the ear is linked to several issues, including damage and infection.

Potential Damage

Earwax is helpful to your ears, and it keeps them from having too dry, sticking to dirt, and avoiding bacteria from getting deeper into your ear. With time, earwax naturally moves to the outside of the ear, where it can be cleared away.

Because your ears are self-cleaning, cleaning them yourself is often unnecessary. However, one survey study shows that 68 percent of participants used cotton swabs for cleaning purposes.

But inserting a cotton swab within your ear can cause various problems. These can include:

Earwax Impaction

Using a cotton swab to clear earwax from your ear can push the earwax deeper in, and this can prevent earwax from naturally removing and causing it to collect within your ear.

The storage of too much earwax can lead to unpleasant symptoms. These can include things like:

  • Pain
  • The feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Injury
  • Muffled hearing

Inserting a cotton swab too far into your ear can potentially injure the structures of your middle ear. One common ear injury related to cotton swab use is a ruptured eardrum.

A study found that about 73 percent of ear injuries from cotton swabs were associated with ear cleaning.

Another study reviewed 80 cases of a ruptured eardrum. Whereas blunt trauma, like from an assault, was the most usual reason for the condition, a penetrating injury was known to be the reason in 44 percent of cases.


Earwax helps hold and slow the bacterial growth that has entered your ear canal. A cotton swab can push the bacteria along with ear wax farther into your ear, resulting in an ear infection.

Foreign Particles in the Ear

In some instances, part of the tip of the cotton swab may come off inside your ear, which can lead to feelings of discomfort, fullness, or pain. In some cases, hearing loss can occur.

So, what should you do if you’ve already inserted a cotton swab into your ear and are experiencing discomfort? In the short term, you can ease discomfort using over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Make an appointment with a doctor if your ear pain persists after three days of home treatment.

If you put a cotton swab in your ear and experience a sharp, severe pain along with additional symptoms such as muffled hearing or ringing in your ears, contact an ENT Specialist in Lahore straight away. You may have sustained an ear injury.

How to Clean Your Ears Safely?

Follow the four steps below if you want to remove ear wax properly from your ear:

Use a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, or glycerin to your ear with a dropper. This aids in the softening of earwax.

Rinse your ear a few days after softening the earwax. Fill your ear canal with warm water using a bulb syringe.

After you’ve rinsed your ear, gently tilt your head to the side to enable the water to drain.

Dry the outer part of your ear with a clean towel.

People who have tubes in their ear, a ruptured eardrum, or think they have an ear infection should avoid cleaning their ears in this way.

What Else Should You Avoid?

Examples of other ear cleaning procedures to avoid besides cotton swabs, ear candles, and commercially accessible suction devices. Remember, the safest method to have earwax removed is by a healthcare provider. So you can consult an ENT Specialist to get your ear clean. 

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to see a healthcare provider clean your ears. However, earwax can build up or become too hard to be naturally cleared in some cases, even if you don’t use cotton swabs in your ear.

Make an appointment with ENT Specialist in Lahore to have them check your ears if you have any of the symptoms:

  • Ear pain
  • Ears that feel plugged or clogged drainage from your ears, such as pus or blood 
  • Fever 
  • Hearing loss 
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Dizziness or vertigo

Because your ears are self-cleaning, it’s not essential to remove earwax. The use of cotton swabs to make inside your ears clean can cause various ear problems, including things like earwax impaction, injury, and infection.

If you must clean your ears, first soften the earwax and then rinse your ear with warm water, allowing it to drain. Never insert an object like a cotton swab into your ear.

You can book your appointment with one of the Best ENT Specialists through Marham.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1- Is it possible to get an infection by cleaning your ears?

Too much cleaning may bother your ear canal, cause infection, and may even increase the chances of earwax impaction. 

2- Is it true that inserting cotton into your ears can help with an ear infection?

If the eardrum has burst, ear drops or olive oil drops should not be used, and they will not help with an ear infection. If you or your child has an ear infection, you should avoid inserting cotton buds in the ear or getting the infected ear moist.

3- What are the symptoms of an ear infection that have progressed to the brain?

A brain abscess, or an infection-induced deposit of pus in the brain, is the most lethal complication of otitis media. The most prevalent symptoms are headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, neurologic impairments, and altered consciousness. 

By Manali

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