Ear wax, or cerumen (SUH ru mun), is a sticky, waxy substance made in the outer ear canal. This is the area from the ear drum to the outer part of the ear (Picture 1).
The skin in the outer part of the ear has special glands that produce the ear wax. Once the wax is made, it slowly goes through the outer ear canal to the opening of the ear. Most people make ear wax a little at the time, all the time. The ear canal should always have some wax in it.
Most children do not need to do anything special to remove ear wax. If your child bathes and washes his hair regularly this is usually enough to keep his ears clean. If you need to, you can wipe the outside of your child’s ear with a wet washcloth.
Never put a cotton swab, your finger, or anything else in your child’s ear to try to remove wax. This could cause injury or bleeding and may push the wax farther down into the canal.
Some children make extra ear wax. If this wax interferes with hearing, causes pain or an uncomfortable, blocked feeling in the ear, then you should talk to your doctor. Healthcare providers can often prescribe medicines that are placed in the ear to get rid of extra wax.
Sometimes your doctor will need to remove the extra wax.
Call your child’s doctor:
Ear Wax (PDF)
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