If you’ve been pondering over the dark, waxy substance in your baby’s ear and whether you should remove it, you ought to know that earwax in your baby’s ears helps to protect the infant’s ear canal from infection, water, and other foreign objects. It typically moves out of the ear on its own and doesn’t need to be cleaned. However, if your baby has excessive earwax, your doctor may suggest ear drops or oil or use irrigation to extract it.
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Earwax Protects Your Baby’s Ears
Earwax also called cerumen is a colorless soft wax that’s produced by glands in your ears. It turns a yellowish brown color and becomes harder when it comes into contact with air. And what you would think of as dirt actually has some very important functions. Apart from acting as a waterproof in the lining of the ear canal, earwax has antifungal and antibacterial properties too. It also acts as a filter for your baby’s ears and protects their ear canal from infection, foreign objects, and trauma. It’s also a natural cleanser because gathers hair, dead skin cells, and dirt and carries all this muck along with it when it moves out of your ears. In fact, without enough earwax, human ears might feel itchy. So don’t assume your baby’s ears are dirty just because you spot earwax
Some babies may have more earwax than others, but there isn’t really a normal amount of earwax. It’s also common for one ear to have more earwax than the other.
Your Baby’s Ears Clean Themselves
Yes, this is so true, whether yours or your baby’s, the ears clean themselves. So how does this auto-clean function work? The cells in your ear canal can migrate. This movement of cells naturally shifts earwax out of your ears. Normal jaw movements such as those made when we talk or eat assists the ear cells to move. So, your baby’s earwax will typically move to the ear opening, dry up, and fall out on their own.
Don’t Clean Earwax with Cotton Swabs, Pointed Objects, or Your Finger
Most of us are guilty of using cotton buds or swabs to clean inside our ears. However this habit can damage your baby’s ear. Inserting a cotton bud into your baby’s ear canal can push earwax deeper inside, where it may get stuck and cause a ear infection. It even raises the danger of breaking their eardrum.
How to clean a baby’s ears
Your baby’s ears do need cleaning despite all said. But instead of poking inside your baby’s ears and even yours, you can gently wipe outside the ears to them. Use a cotton bud or clean washcloth to wipe the outside of each ear with warm water and make sure you clean behind their ears too. You can clean your baby’s ears when you bathe them. Avoid poking inside the ear with your fingers or the washcloth.
Use Ear Drops or Ear Irrigation only on doctor’s prescription
Though earwax generally tends to move out of the ear naturally, it can sometimes block your baby’s ear. This may happen when you insert something in the ear such as a cotton bud or a hearing aid, which can push wax further inside the ear, clog it, and even cause an infection. Some children may also have excessive earwax and the accumulation of earwax can lead to a ringing in the ear, trouble hearing or earache. But unless you see signs that the earwax is causing a problem, there’s no reason to disturb it.
How to tell your baby has ear discomfort
Babies with discomfort in their ears tend to tug at them or rub them. You may even be able to see the buildup of hardened earwax when you look into your baby’s ear. Only a medical professional will be able to determine if the earwax is indeed problematic and if it should be removed.
After checking your baby’s ear, your doctor may advise you to use ear drops, mineral oil, or olive/almond oil to soften the wax. The softened wax may then fall out on its own or may need to be removed by irrigation.
During irrigation, a bulb syringe is filled with warm water and gently streamed into the ear. After a few minutes, the water and wax flow out when the head is tilted. Your doctor may also remove the wax manually using a device known as a curette which has a scoop at the tip to help extract the wax.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.