TikTok post goes viral as doc reveals the right and WRONG ways to clean your ears08/26/2021
A TIKTOK post has gone viral suggesting you’ve been cleaning your ears wrong your whole life.
It shows a woman called Ayisha pouring hydrogen peroxide into her ears while laying on her side, letting the product “sizzle” away.
After waiting around ten seconds, Ayisha flips her head the other way and lets the gunk ooze out of her ear onto a towel.
The clip has been viewed 14.7 million times, and liked by 2 million.
And it's not the first time the method has gained popularity online, with another user gaining 1 million likes trying it out.
The idea of using something called “hydrogen peroxide”, a mild anticeptic, in the ear canal sounds both terrifying and toxic.
But experts say it’s actually the correct way to clean the ears.
Dr Tonia Farmer, MD, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon from Warren, Ohio, told BuzzFeed: "I use peroxide in my office to assist with earwax cleaning almost every day. It's generally safe to use in the ear canal.
“However, I stress that peroxide shouldn't be used if there is a hole in the eardrum from a perforation or ear tube. Using peroxide in these cases should only be done by or under the direction of a medical provider."
Dr Tonia recommends putting five to ten drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal, laying down for five minutes. Then, you should sit up and tilt your head so the peroxide and wax can run out of your ear.
Dr Anthony Youn recommended using a commercial brand of diluted hydrogen peroxide found in ear drops.
Discussing it on TikTok, he said while a safe percentage of the compound will cause "bubbling" in the ear, a high percentage can cause blistering.
Even when diluted, it could also cause side effects for some people, like bitter taste, temporary pain in the ear, temporary hearing loss, dizziness, and ringing in your ears.
If hydrogen peroxide is used incorrectly, it could have some serious side effects of skin irritation, blistering and inflammation, according to Medical News Today.
The NHS suggests using medical grade olive or almond oil in your ear twice a day for a few days.
All you need is three drops and the NHS states that you should use a dropper or pipette while lying your head on one side for a few minutes to let the oil work its way through your ear canal(s).
It’s advised to do it for three to five days and only if you feel your ears are blocked.
"You may find it easier to do this first thing in the morning and then just before you go to sleep,” the NHS says.
"Over about two weeks, lumps of earwax should fall out of your ear, especially at night when you're lying down.
How you should not clean your ears
Most people are used to sticking a cotton swab into the ear and wiggling it around.
But if you haven’t heard already – experts never recommend using these.
Instead of getting wax out, they actually push it further into the ear canal, which is about 2.5cm long, and make the problem worse.
It could also damage the eardrum, according to draft guidance from the health watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
Cotton buds or “Q-tips” will soon be banned in England anyway, because the billions of plastic sticks used every year are not environmentally friendly.
Nice also warns against using ear syringing, which involves a large metal syringe being used to pump water into the ear to clean out wax.
Both methods of cleaning the ear are "potentially harmful and should not be used".
The NHS also says “there's no evidence that ear candles or ear vacuums get rid of earwax”.
There’s something very satisfying about cleaning the ears.
However, it is not actually necessary, as ears are self-cleaning. If there is too much earwax, it will naturally fall out on it’s own.
The ears need a certain amount of wax in order to protect the ear canal from bacteria.
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