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Here's Why You Should Never Use Cotton Buds To Clean Your Ears

This ear care advice has just been updated.
PHOTO: Getty

It's been well-reported that cleaning your ears with cotton buds can do more harm than good, but many of us remain guilty of carrying out the unsafe habit.

So, to promote healthy ear care, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation has updated its best practices for the treatment of earwax.

These explain that although earwax is a "normal substance" that the body produces to clean and protect the ears, people often respond by using cotton buds to remove it. As Dr Seth R. Schwartz, chair of the guidelines group, explains, this isn't a good idea.

"Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning out their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles, or any number of unimaginable things that people put in their ears," Dr Schwartz said.

"The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal," Dr. Schwartz added. "Anything that fits in the ear could cause serious harm to the ear drum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage."

While it's tempting to use a swab when you feel your ears are blocked, this can interrupt the natural cycle of wax production, which is actually there to act as a "self-cleaning agent." Instead, chewing and moving your jaw are a safer way to help to move old earwax from inside the ears.

The report also warns against using ear candles to treat the build-up of wax, and urges people who often experience ear fullness or any ear pain to seek medical advice. Sounds like cotton buds are best left for these clever beauty tricks.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.