Instructions for Ear Care

By Richard Areen, MD, FACS

The ear canals are normally coated with a layer of wax (cerumen) that both cleans and protects the ear canal skin. The ear canals do NOT need to be cleaned. Most ear problems develop from people trying to remove the wax with ear swabs, fingers or other objects or from rubbing the ears because they itch.

Itching of the ear canals may indicate an infection, but usually results from removal of the wax which causes the ear canal skin to dry and crack. This will then cause more itching resulting in a vicious cycle of itching - more rubbing - more itching.

To break this cycle you must stop from putting anything in the ear canal including earplugs or in-the-ear earphones. To control the itching use the formula below to make eardrops. You may use these as often as necessary to stop the itching. You also must not rub the ears as this will aggravate the condition.


Homemade Eardrops

  1. Use common White Distilled Vinegar from the grocery store. Do not use any other type of vinegar.
  2. Combine 1 part vinegar with 1 part water. May use distilled or tap water.
  3. Use an eye dropper to place 3 to 6 drops in each ear canal. Tilt your head to allow the drops to reach the bottom of the ear canal.
  4. Allow the drops to stay a few seconds and then tilt your head the opposite way to allow any excess drops to come out.
  5. Repeat the procedure on the other ear if needed.

Warnings

  1. The vinegar eardrops may sting a little. Do not use if it is painful.
  2. Do not use the drops if you have a known hole in the eardrum.
  3. Stop the drops and call your doctor if you have a sudden loss of hearing.

Best way to Dry Ears After Swimming or Shower

  1. Do NOT use swabs, tissues or towels to dry the ear.
  2. Tilt head to one side and pull back on the outer ear to straighten the ear canal and gently shake the ear.
  3. May use a blow dryer on low heat to assist in removing the water. Hold the end 12 inches from the ear.
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