• Question: Where does the dirty from our ears come from

    Asked by xamaj to Christina on 23 Jan 2017.
    • Photo: Christina Obiero

      Christina Obiero answered on 23 Jan 2017:

      The dirt in the outer (external) ear is called ear wax (cerumen). Ear wax is produced by some glands that are found in the skin in the ear canal. Ear wax is important as it moisturizes the skin of the ear canal, preventing it from drying up. Ear wax also protects the inner ear by trapping dirt that is blown to the ear from the environment. When the wax mixes with this dirt, it forms the ‘dirt’ that we see when we clean our ears. Some of this wax and dirt mixture may come out of our ears as we bathe while some of it may not, requiring us to clean the ears with cotton buds. It is advisable to clean our ears with very soft cotton buds as hard cotton buds may push the wax further in resulting in blockage of the ear canal. This can make someone not to be able to hear well. In such a situation (where wax is impacted in the ear), one may need to visit a doctor to have the wax syringed out of the ear with warm water.