Why Do We Have Ear Wax?

Why Do We Have Ear Wax?

Why Do We Have Ear Wax?

The ears have their own self-cleaning mechanism; ear wax.  The epithelial skin cells in your ear are formed near the middle of the eardrum and move outwards along the canal.  The wax traps dirt and debris which is transported to the outside where it can be disposed of by removal with an earbud or finger.

The medical word for ear wax is cerumen.  It is an oily substance made by modified sweat glands found in your ear canal.

The wax also defends the skin of the canal against infection.  It does this by water-proofing the skin and stopping water and bacteria penetrating.  Repeated swimming can cause the lining of the canal to break down, resulting in bacteria getting in.  A high quality pair of molded ear plugs will be needed to stop you getting ear infections if you swim regularly.  Antibacterial ones are better, like these from ZenPlugs.

ZenPlugs are non-porous and wipe-clean making them ideal for use in the sea or pool.  The antibacterial Steritouch is incorporated during the manufacturing process. It kills all the bacteria which cause ear infections, helping to defend you against ear infections.  They can be joined together on the cord provided which can be tied to your bag or wetsuit zip to stop you losing them.


A large number of people have excessive amounts of ear wax.  The problem is worsened by the incorrect use of ear buds; insertion into the ear canal is tempting but pushes dead skin cells and wax deeper into your ear canal where it can become impacted, reducing hearing and causing tinnitus.

Impacted wax definitely needs softening with drops like warmed olive oil, alternatively those bought at the chemist.  It can then be suctioned from the ears using specialist equipment.  Syringing is definitely no longer advised as it can cause permanent tinnitus.

The correct way to use ear buds is to gently remove wax and debris which is seen around your opening to the canal.  Custom ear plugs are definitely the best type for those who have excessive wax build up because they are wipable and antibacterial.  The foam type is not suitable as they accumulate wax, quickly becoming unhygienic and requiring replacement.

ZenPlugs can be made at home in a few minutes from a kit, saving you time and money on visiting the audiologist.  They can also be joined on a string so you don't lose them and they contain a powerful antibacterial which is proven to kill the bacteria known to cause ear infections.  See more on their website.