Who had the biggest ears at all?
Wash, drill, cream? How to Properly Care for Your Ears
Ear care with cotton swabs or perhaps the ear irrigation? We give tips on how to best clean your ears without injuring yourself.
What are the best tips for caring for ears? Do we even need to clean them, and if so, how? What other care tips do you need to consider?
Why do we actually have earwax?
The skin glands in the ear canal continuously produce a secretion, ear wax or cerumen. This secretion has an important function in the ear canal. It ensures that the skin stays moist and dirt and dust can be transported out of the ear. At the same time, it has a disinfecting effect: the cerumen contains lysozyme, an enzyme that kills bacteria.
Do our ears really need cleaning?
"If you don't wash, you get dirty" is a common motto. In general, this is undoubtedly correct. Our ears, however, are state-of-the-art devices: They have a self-cleaning mechanism that actually makes it superfluous to manually clean the ear canal. The fine hairs in the ear canal are responsible for transporting the lard consisting of sweat gland secretions, sebum and dirt particles towards the auricle.
This also means that it is usually sufficient to clean and care for the sensitive skin of the auricle and behind the ear. So good news. Actually. Because sometimes it happens that the ear cannot clean itself sufficiently. The reason for this can be, for example, an increased production of ear wax: the self-cleaning mechanism then simply does not work, and a plug forms.
An ear canal that is too narrow can also lead to a plug in the ear. Then a relatively small amount of ear wax is enough to create an unpleasant clogging of the ear canal. Another cause of clogged ears can also simply be age - sometimes the self-cleaning ability of the ears decreases with age.
The entire ear canal does not always have to be blocked. Sometimes it's just small particles of ear wax that dry up and get stuck between the hairs in the ear canal. The result: it starts to itch. Itching, plugging and inflammation are some of the most common ear canal complaints.
In all these cases it is necessary to clean the ear canal or have it cleaned by a doctor. Otherwise, you are welcome to leave the cleaning to your ear yourself.
Are cotton swabs a problem for cleaning the ears?
If you think now that you can use the ear swab when cleaning is necessary, you are unfortunately wrong. Many people still use cotton swabs to remove earwax - not least because they seem to remove the problem so quickly and practically. -Doctors have been informing for years that this is dangerous for the ears. But why actually?
There are various reasons for this: On the one hand, the cotton swabs can cause injuries. If the rigid rod is inserted too deeply into the ear, there is a risk of damaging the eardrum. At least the cotton swab can push the ear wax deeper into the ear canal, so that blockages form even more.
In addition, too much cleaning with the ear swab can irritate the sensitive skin in the ear canal. Ear wax is supposed to protect the ear canal from drying out and bacteria. Excessive cleaning, on the other hand, can cause eczema or inflammation. Last but not least, cotton wool can also get stuck in the fine hairs in the ear canal. The result: It itches even more than before.
Cotton swabs should therefore never be used to clean the ear canal. When applying cosmetics or medicines to the skin, removing ointments cleanly from jars or cleaning technical devices and small parts, however, they can do a good job.
Alternative ear care: ear irrigation at home
As an alternative to cotton swabs, ear irrigation is usually recommended. There are special preparations for this that are supposed to help loosen earwax residues and prevent clogging. Sprays based on sea or fresh water, which are freely available in pharmacies, are particularly popular for ear care. The problem, however, is that these rinses are relatively complex and do not work so well for everyone.
Alternatively, there are also chemical-based products that can be used for ear irrigation at home. You can also rinse your ears with warm chamomile tea or simply water. In any case, all of these are better than using ear swabs.
Those who tend to suffer from dry ears anyway should drizzle some oil, for example olive oil or walnut oil, into their ears. This can be necessary, especially for water sports enthusiasts, as constant contact with sea water or chlorinated water can damage the protective layer in the ear canal, causing dry skin and irritation there.
If the rinses do not work, it is advisable to consult a doctor who will do a professional ear rinse. He can also determine whether itching is due to eczema, for example. In addition, usually only a doctor can identify and remove a stuck plug in the ear. If you do this yourself, you run the risk of injuring yourself.
Technical aids for ear care
There are already some technical aids for ear rinsing that are supposed to make rinsing the ears easier. These include small bellows that are filled with lukewarm water and enemas to rinse out the ears. The sprays that are available in the pharmacy usually already have a syringe needle that is supposed to help introduce the liquid into the ear canal.
Another option is an electric ear cleaner. These devices have a small suction hose and should gently remove water, but also excess ear wax. However, these devices are only conditionally suitable for removing ear wax. So that ear wax can be properly sucked off at all, the ears should be pretreated with an oil, for example walnut oil. But then the cleaning takes so long that you could have done a simple rinse, which is much gentler on the ears.
Last but not least, there is a kind of rubber ear swab, the Smart Swab. The rubber has a spiral structure and looks like a screw made of soft plastic. This Smart Swab should then be screwed into the ear canal like a screw and remove excess ear wax. Even if there is less risk of injury than the cotton swab: This little aid is only partially good for the ears.
Remaining tender: the right ear care
Conclusion: There are countless aids - they are usually not useful. Normally, it is best to limit your ear cleaning to the outer ear. Nature has taken precautions: The external auditory canal is so narrow that the little finger cannot fit into it any further than is necessary for cleaning. Douching can help with itching and minor debris. If there are stubborn plugs that impair hearing and if itching persists, a doctor should be consulted. Our ears are very complex and sensitive organs - and should be carefully cared for.
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