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Cotton bud or olive oil?

Doctor Anna Molska
Otolaryngologist specialist 24 years of professional experience in laryngology surgery and behavioural treatment at the Children's Laryngology Ward of Woj. Szpital Zespolony im. J. Śniadeckiego in Białystok and Dziecięca Poradnia Laryngologiczna








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Little Tommy visits the doctor, his ear hurts, blood is seeping.
Is it a virus causing this? No!
If only mum hadn’t cleaned the ears with a cotton bud,
then she wouldn’t have injured them.

When wondering about how to begin a few words to you, I made up this sad, and unfortunately true, rhyme. In my professional practice, I frequently come across the problem of so-called “dirty ears”. In the age of running water and soap this concept is outdated. I try to explain patiently, that it is mostly not dirt, but wax, so the natural discharge, which has the task of cleaning our ears, that constitutes this embarrassing problem.

The ear canal is covered with hairs that grow from the eardrum towards the outlet of the ear, and in the skin there are glands that secrete earwax. When particles of dust get inside the ear, they are captured by the cerumen and with the help of the hairs they are gradually moved outside. This is a self-cleaning system. It happens that moms, who I call “hygienist mums”, clean the ears of their children or dry them after a bath using cotton buds. One careless move of the hand or rapid movement of the child’s head and the situation from the rhyme occurs. Pain, blood, stress and usually a pierced eardrum, which doesn’t always heal itself without complications. We expose the child to long weeks of treatment, and sometimes even a repair operating procedure. And this was so easily avoided.

If we have a problem with over-production of cerumen, the formation of plugs, we can use agents that dissolve and facilitate its removal. From a fairly wide range of preparations available, I recommend parents of small patients, already from 3 months old, natural preparations based on olive oil, which dissolve and remove earwax in a very safe and effective way. It can be easily applied, which is very important for use in young children. It is also a recommendable product for daily hygiene of the ears. I deal with children in my daily work and I pay special attention to proper hygiene and protection of their ears, so I would advise to apply the following rules:

nothing should be inserted into the ear canal, particularly not cotton buds,
for cleaning ears there are natural products based on olive oil, water and a towel,
however, if the problem of a clogged ears appears, one should see an ENT specialist.

Let’s care for the hygiene of children’s ears, because the excessive accumulation of earwax can cause hearing impairment, inflammation of the ears, throat and numerous complications. The same rules also apply to adults. Often when talking with parents of patients I say that their children’s ears belong to me, the laryngologist, because they are safe in my hands. In applying the rules of proper hygiene, your little ones will also be safe in your hands.

Spray with oil a few times, warm water washes the ears.
Clean and shiny, the towel will dry them well.
Tommy hugs his mummy, he feels safe with her.
Olive oil? No problem. Cotton bud? Not really.


Doctor Anna Molska
Otolaryngologist specialist
24 years of professional experience in laryngology surgery and behavioural treatment at the Children’s Laryngology Ward of Woj. Szpital Zespolony im. J. Śniadeckiego in Białystok and Dziecięca Poradnia Laryngologiczna

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