Keller Texas Ear Nose Throat Doctors at Texas ENT Center

What’s the big deal with Q-tips?

January 13th, 2017

We’ve all heard the age-old warning to refrain from sticking Q-tips in our ears, but is it really that big of a deal? We get wax build up in our ears and naturally want to get it out. Why not use a perfectly shaped Q-tip to clean out that pesky wax?


First, let’s address the reason our bodies produce ear wax. Ear wax, more formally known as cerumen, is produced by a combination of glands in the ear canal called sebaceous and sweat glands. Every person produces ear wax at a different rate. Some people may produce a hard plug of wax and others may produce hardly any at all. The most well-known reason ear wax is produced in the ears is to prevent foreign bodies such as dust, hair, dead skin cells, and bugs (yes, even those creepy crawlers) from getting into the ear canal. When yawning or chewing, the trapped particles will make their way out of the ear canal. Other than keeping foreign objects out of the ear, ear wax is very acidic which lessens the chances of fungus growing in the ear. Ear wax is also considered a lubrication that prevents dryness and itching. So, ask yourself – why would you want to remove something that’s supposed to protect your body?

Are you still not convinced that you should put down the Q-tips? Think about this – when Q-tips are put into the ear canal, it shoves earwax further into the ear and pushes it against the eardrum which prevents the eardrum from vibrating. If the eardrum is unable to vibrate, this can cause hearing loss. Another thought to ponder is about the way the eardrum is formed. The eardrum is a very sensitive part of the ear that can easily be punctured if a Q-tip is placed too far into the ear canal. A punctured eardrum can be extremely painful and could result in hearing loss as well.

Now that you know why so many Doctors are against Q-tips being placed in the ear, let’s look at how Q-tips are meant to be used.

There are a wide variety of uses for Q-tips, such as first aid usage, applying cosmetics, creating arts and crafts, and cleaning. On the box of Q-tips cotton swabs there is a clear warning that says do not insert swabs into the ear canal. It advises to only stroke the swab around the outside of the ear.

Doctors are not against Q-tip swabs. They are against placing Q-tips directly into the ear canal. It’s recommended that when you feel a full sensation in your ears, ringing, pain, hearing loss, drainage, or bleeding to seek a medical doctor instead of using a Q-tip to take matters into your own hands.

So next time you have the urge to stick a Q-tip in your ears, remember this familiar tip – if you’re unsure whether to stick something in your ear, never place anything smaller than your elbow into your ear!

Call us today 817-431-7985 to schedule an appointment for your child to see one of our family-friendly doctors.

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Office phone: (817) 431-7985
Office location: 4601 Heritage Trace Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76244 (at the intersection of Beach Street and Heritage Trace Parkway)

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