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Earwax: Facts, Functions, and Potential Health Problems

Linda Crampton is a writer and teacher with a first-class honors degree in biology. She often writes about the scientific basis of disease.

Tugging at the ear could indicate a problem with earwax.

Tugging at the ear could indicate a problem with earwax.

A Protective Secretion

Earwax doesn't usually get much respect. In fact, it's often considered to be a somewhat disgusting secretion. It's actually a very useful substance and helps to keep our ears healthy.

Earwax is technically known as cerumen. It coats the skin lining the ear canal and carries dirt, hair, dead cells, and other debris out of the canal. It also kills microorganisms. By doing these jobs, the wax helps to protect the eardrum from injury. The eardrum lies at the end of the ear canal and plays an important role in our ability to hear.

Normally, earwax does its jobs invisibly and very well. Sometimes, however, the ear makes too much wax. If this becomes trapped inside the ear canal, it may form a plug known as an impaction. An impaction can be painful and can interfere with hearing. Fortunately, there are several ways to safely remove trapped earwax.

Parts of the Ear

The human ear consists of three parts. The visible part, which is usually called "the ear" by most people, is actually only a small section of the organ.

  1. The outer ear consists of the visible ear flap at the side of the head, which is known as the pinna or auricle, and the auditory canal, which is also known as the ear canal. The ear canal transports sound waves to the middle ear.
  2. The middle ear begins at the eardrum. The eardrum is a membrane that is connected to three tiny bones known as ossicles. These little bones are the malleus (or hammer), the incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup). Sound waves from the outer ear cause the eardrum to vibrate. The eardrum sends the vibrations to the ossicles.
  3. The inner ear contains the cochlea, or organ of hearing, as well as the semicircular canals, which play a role in balance. The vibrating stapes causes a membranous window in the wall of the cochlea to vibrate. This in turn causes the fluid inside the cochlea to vibrate. The vibrating fluid stimulates hair cells, which trigger the auditory nerve to send a message to the brain. The brain then creates the sensation of hearing.

Glands of the Auditory Canal

The skin that lines the ear canal contains both sebaceous glands and ceruminous glands. These produce secretions that combine to make earwax. Sebaceous glands are also found in the skin that covers the body surface, apart from the skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The glands produce an oily secretion that waterproofs skin and protects it from bacteria and fungi. The ceruminous glands are specialized sweat glands. They produce a waxy secretion.

Researchers have discovered that cerumen contains long-chain fatty acids, cholesterol, squalene, and various types of alcohols. The ratio of these chemicals and the exact composition of cerumen varies and is influenced by diet, environment, age, and ethnicity.

Types of Earwax

It may be surprising to learn that not everyone's earwax looks the same. Two types of earwax exist in humans—wet and dry. The wet type is golden or brown in color and is moist and sticky. The dry kind is light grey, white, or pale tan in color and has a flaky texture.

The appearance of earwax is genetically determined. People with a European or African background tend to have wet wax, while people with an Asian or Native American background tend to have dry wax.

Sometimes the earwax of older people becomes drier. In addition, their ears may become less effective at shedding wax than when they were younger, which causes the secretion to collect in the auditory canal.

The pinna and the entrance to the auditory or ear canal in a baby

The pinna and the entrance to the auditory or ear canal in a baby

Earwax Type and Body Odor

Although it sounds like a strange idea, the type of earwax produced by a person is linked to whether or not they have smelly armpits. Researchers have found that people with wet wax are very likely to produce underarm odor, while those with dry wax are very unlikely to produce underarm odor.

Eccrine and Apocrine Sweat Glands

The sweat glands over most of our skin are called eccrine glands. They produce a watery sweat that contains salt and is odorless. This sweat evaporates to cool us down.

Under the arms we have a different type of sweat gland—the apocrine gland. This produces a sweat containing fats and proteins. Bacteria on the skin break these substances down to make smelly chemicals. Apocrine glands exist on other parts of the body, but the ones under our arms are the greatest contributor to body odor.

The ABCC11 Gene and Apocrine Glands

The ceruminous glands in the ear canal are a type of apocrine gland. Scientists know that a variant of a gene known as ABCC11 is responsible for both dry earwax and lack of armpit odor. The possession of two copies of the gene variant affects the action of apocrine glands in both the ear canal and the armpit. The mechanism by which the effects are produced is still being studied.

Dry earwax; the cotton swab is used to provide scale

Dry earwax; the cotton swab is used to provide scale

Dominant and Recessive Alleles

Different variants or versions of a gene are technically known as alleles. Two alleles of the ABCC11 gene control earwax type and body odor. The ABCC11 allele that produces wet wax and smelly armpits is dominant, while the allele that produces dry wax and odorless armpits is recessive. Dominant alleles always do their job (at the appropriate time and location); recessive alleles can only do their job when no dominant allele is present.

We have two copies of the ABCC11 gene in our cells. One came from our mother and the other came from our father. If both are the dominant allele, or if one is the dominant allele and the other is the recessive allele, we will have wet earwax and underarm odor. If both are the recessive allele we will have dry earwax and no underarm odor.

Too much wax can block the ear canal, but too little can also be harmful. It increases the chance of infections and may cause the canal to itch.

Functions of Earwax

The job of earwax is to clean the ear canal. It does this by sweeping away dirt, microorganisms, hairs, and dead skin cells shed by the lining of the canal. The wax keeps the environment in the canal acidic, which seems to be necessary for a healthy ear.

Earwax also lubricates the ear canal, which stops it from drying out. The lubrication not only prevents the ear from become itchy but also stops tiny cracks and crevices from forming on the wall of the canal. These crevices can easily trap bacteria, which could lead to an infection.

Wet earwax on a cotton swab; it's not a good idea to stick a cotton swab into an ear

Wet earwax on a cotton swab; it's not a good idea to stick a cotton swab into an ear

The Ear Canal's Self-Cleaning Mechanism

Normally, the movement of the jaw during speaking and eating helps to push earwax along the ear canal to its entrance. Here the wax dries into small pieces or flakes, which are shed. For most people, cleaning the inside of the pinna and the entrance to the ear canal is enough to remove the pieces of wax. The ear canal itself should be left alone, unless a person is following medical advice.

Sometimes the body's natural method of wax removal isn't successful and help is needed. If wax can't escape from the ear canal, it may form a clump that blocks the passageway. In this situation, the wax said to be impacted. Impaction can develop if the ear canal is crooked or if a hearing aid or ear plug covers the canal, for example. Some people produce more earwax than others, which may increase the risk of blockages.

Possible Symptoms of Impacted Earwax

There are several possible symptoms of impacted wax in the ear canal. They can also be symptoms of other problems, such as an ear infection. Hearing loss can be caused by wax blocking the ear canal, but it can also be caused by a perforated eardrum, an inner ear problem, or an auditory nerve problem.

Symptoms of impacted earwax may include:

  • hearing loss
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • a sense of fullness in the ears
  • ear pain
  • an itchy sensation in the ear
  • dizziness

When unusual or unpleasant symptoms develop in the ear, it's important to visit a doctor to get a diagnosis. If hearing loss is sudden or if one of the symptoms is loss of balance, a fever, or vomiting, the affected person should go to a hospital right away instead of waiting for a doctor's appointment.

A hearing aid can prevent earwax from leaving the ear and cause it to collect inside the ear canal or the hearing aid.

A hearing aid can prevent earwax from leaving the ear and cause it to collect inside the ear canal or the hearing aid.

Cleaning the Auditory Canal

Seek Medical Advice

Cleaning the ear canal should be done by a medical professional or by following his or her instructions. Doctors have special tools to clear wax and debris from the ear canal. In addition, they have the skill and experience needed to remove impacted wax safely.

Once the ear is examined and a diagnosis is made, the doctor may say that self-treatment for a problem is okay. The doctor may also be able to suggest ways to prevent the wax buildup from happening again.

Safety Concerns

Doctors often recommend that a person uses oil or water based ear drops to soften their earwax. Wax softening products are known as cerumenolytics. They mustn't be used if the eardrum is perforated, however. Doctors may also suggest that softened earwax is washed out with a special solution applied with a rubber-bulb syringe or other device. Once again, this mustn't be done if there is a hole in the eardrum. Liquids that enter the middle ear may cause a serious infection.

An Important Warning

Medical professionals say that it’s very important that nothing hard is inserted into the ear canal, not even a Q tip or other cotton swab (or cotton bud). Hard objects that enter the canal may scrape and injure its wall. Earwax usually forms in the outer third of the ear canal, but a cotton swab may push the wax further into the canal and cause it to become more compact. In addition, the wax plug may jam against the eardrum and damage it, or the object placed in the ear may injure the eardrum by itself.

A cotton swab or cotton bud should never be put in the ear canal.

A cotton swab or cotton bud should never be put in the ear canal.

My Experience With Impacted Earwax Removal

I recently had impacted earwax removed from one ear by a doctor before I got a hearing test. The wax was removed by a water jet applied at a safe pressure. The procedure was quick, painless, and effective. The only problem that I experienced was dizziness after the wax removal. The dizziness lasted for around a minute.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery recommends that water placed in the ear be at room temperature in order to avoid dizziness. The water placed in my ear was cool.

Ear Candling and Potential Problems

Some alternate medicine practitioners promote ear candling as a method for removing earwax. Health agencies say that there is no evidence that this process is effective and that it's potentially dangerous.

The "candle" is a hollow cone or tube made of waxed cloth or cloth that has been soaked in paraffin. It's usually about ten inches long. The tapered end of the candle is inserted into the ear and the other end is lit. The heat from the burning candle supposedly creates a negative pressure or suction that draws wax out of the ear. Ear candling is said to help a range of health problems in addition to the buildup of earwax.

Researchers say that the residue that forms on burning ear candles comes from the candle material and isn't earwax. They also say that candles can:

  • burn the face or ear
  • block the ear canal with candle wax
  • push earwax further into the ear canal
  • puncture the ear drum
  • delay potentially effective treatments for a health problem

Other mammals besides humans produce earwax, including dogs, cats, rabbits, whales, and many other animals.

Some Surprising Facts About Earwax

  • The long wax plugs in whale ears show dark and light layers that correspond to different feeding seasons. They've been used to indicate the age of dead whales.
  • The wax plug may be as long as ten inches in the blue whale, which is the largest animal on Earth.
  • Analyzing the earwax of a dead blue whale can indicate what pollutants it was exposed to during its lifetime and determine when the production of certain hormones peaked in its body.
  • Pliny the Elder (23 AD – 79 AD) reported that earwax was a good treatment for bites from humans and serpents and for scorpion stings.
  • Medieval artists sometimes added earwax to the paints that they used to illustrate manuscripts.
  • Some cat owners report that their pet loves the taste of human earwax.

Earwax is a useful substance for us and other animals. We may not think much about it unless it causes problems, but it serves us well.

References

  • Earwax information from the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
  • Cerumen facts from The Conversation
  • Earwax blockage informationfrom the Mayo Clinic
  • Exploring the earwax gene and the need for deodorant use from The Guardian online newspaper
  • Pliny: Natural History from the Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press
  • Facts about the earwax of whales from The Atlantic

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: My dog licked my ear. What will happen?

Answer: Probably nothing will happen. The human body has a great ability to fight many types of germs, especially if they are from a dog in your own family. I’ve had my dog’s tongue reach my ear before with no problem. I hope you washed your ear after your dog licked it, but even if you didn’t, there will probably be no problem. That being said, you should watch out for any changes in the ear and visit a doctor if necessary.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 01, 2020:

Hi, Rajan. Thanks for the comment. It's good that removing the excess wax prevents any problems from developing.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 01, 2020:

Very useful information. I suffer from over secretion of ear wax hence the ear canal gets blocked frequently and every few years I have to get the ear canal washed to get it removed. Nothing serious though.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on June 20, 2020:

Thank you very much, Peggy. I appreciate your visit and your comment.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2020:

Your articles are always filled with information that is of interest. I would never have known that smelly armpits and wet earwax are related. It is impressive the research you put into your articles.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 23, 2019:

I hope your ear problems disappear soon, Denise. Thanks for the visit. Best wishes.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 23, 2019:

This is great information. I've been having some trouble lately and it's probably related to age. I've heard never to insert the Q-tip into the ear canal before but I still do it around the inner rim. I never heard of an ear candle before and would be afraid of one even if I had. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 29, 2018:

Thank you, Beverly.

Beverly Johnson on July 29, 2018:

Hi Linda, thanks so much for your well wishes. Yes, it's been tough for her as she is really into her music now. Typical teen but she's a fighter! Best of luck with everything!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 29, 2018:

Hi, Beverly. Thank you very much for the comment. I'm glad you're working on the issue of your daughter's hearing loss. Difficulty in hearing in frustrating at my age. I think it would even more frustrating for a child or young person. Best wishes to you both.

Beverly Johnson on July 29, 2018:

Thanks for the great article, this was very enlightening. My daughter has always suffered ear infections (much like myself), especially during winter. And, even more so since she started sleeping with a fan by her bed. She has mild deafness in her left ear. I believe it's related to accumulation of ear wax and we're working on the issue now. She made the problem worse by trying to self clean it with one of those q-tips. It hurt really bad after that, she said. No pain now thankfully. If this ear issue persists, of course, we'll see a doctor.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 13, 2018:

Thanks for the interesting comment, Rajan. I appreciate your visit.

Rajan Singh Jolly on July 13, 2018:

A very enlightening and useful article on ear wax. I have had wax plugs removed a few times. Luckily no problem of any dizziness after removal.

I seem to be an exception to the wet wax and smelly armpits connection. Lol!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 2018:

Hi, Kathi. I agree—our ears are amazing. Thanks for the comment and for sharing your experience.

Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on May 21, 2018:

I've had this before as well and had the earwax removed at the doctors office, but it hurt for some reason. Anyway, I still occasionally get a build up and take care of it myself with water by squeezing it out of a bulb. I do get dizzy sometimes, but not usually. Anyway, I'm very careful not to apply too much pressure and it seems to do the trick. Great article, Linda, our ears are amazing.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 04, 2018:

Hi, Larry. I find the human body amazing, too. It's sad when it doesn't work properly, though. We still have a lot to learn about fixing problems in the body. Thank you for the comment.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 04, 2018:

A lot of information there that I never knew of. The one that really shocked me was the relation of ear wax to smelly arm pits. The human body is an amazing thing. It is like a fine machine when everything works right, then the machine is in need of repair when something goes wrong. Great article, Linda.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 27, 2018:

It's a great shame when we have a bad medical or dental experience that could have been better, especially when it affects our future attitudes.

DREAM ON on February 27, 2018:

I think he just wasn't a good doctor. Like we have bad drivers, managers, carpemters, lawyers and dentists. She should of Googled him first.She never went back. She grew up believing nothing smaller than your elbow goes in your ear.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 26, 2018:

Thanks for the comment. I'm sorry your mother experienced pain getting earwax removed. As I said in the article, my experience was painless. Perhaps your mother's situation was more complicated than mine. I hope you enjoy the rest of the day.

DREAM ON on February 26, 2018:

Wow I learned so much. Because I work in the kitchen as a cook some how I get flour in my outer ears. My wife uses a q-tip just to clean where a face cloth doesn't cut it. I will make sure she doesn't go inside to cause any damage,I remember my mother getting ear wax removed from her ears and she was in great pain. She said the ear doctor hurt her and she would nevr go again. Thank you for taking the time to inform and help us learn more about our own bodies. Have a wonderful morning.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 29, 2017:

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad your son is feeling better now that his earwax has been removed. Impacted earwax can certainly cause problems!

Kathy Henderson from Pa on December 29, 2017:

This article is very informative, last week I had my son to the Doctor and they removed earwax. He started feeling better right away. The ear is so intricate and when hearing or balance are effected it can cause havoc. I will be sharing this with him. Thanks

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 17, 2017:

Thank you for such a kind comment, Glenn. Getting a DNA test is a very interesting idea. It's something that I'll think about.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on December 17, 2017:

I didn’t know that there are two types of earwax in humans based on genetics. But that’s not the only thing I learned from your well-written article. You also mentioned that ears may be less effective at shedding wax when we’re older. That explains why I, for the first time in my life, had impacted earwax.

I recently had my DNA tested by 23andMe. So I’m going to check my report to see if I have a dominant ABCC11 gene, but I already know the answer due to your explanation.

This was a fun article to read, Linda, as well as being very educational. Well done.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 03, 2017:

Thank you, Larry. I'm glad that scientists gain new knowledge over time. It's interesting to read about new discoveries!

Larry W. Fish on September 30, 2017:

A great article, Linda. I learned a lot here that I did not know or even thought about. Sometimes as we get older we never remember some of the things that we learned in school and much more is known about subjects now that were not know when I went to school decades and decades ago. Thanks for sharing so much information.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 24, 2016:

Thanks for the interesting and kind comment, Cynthia. I appreciate all the shares, too!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on July 24, 2016:

Yes Linda, thanks for this fascinating information about the relationship of earwax and underarm odour. My grandmother had no body odour , and didn't sweat and my mother noticed early on that I seem to have inherited that from her. I believe our older son is the same, even though he was an athlete and would return from a long run with a very red, hot face, he never sweated copiously under his arms or had body odour. I would like to send him this article, but I am not sure how to present it, so I will likely think about it. I have long been curious about an indigenous background but had thought it was from my father's side only-- now I'm thinking that perhaps my maternal grandmother's father (a McDonald with very little genealogical information available) might have been Metis. In any case, thank you for this superb article. I will be sharing extensively! ~Cynthia

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 12, 2016:

Thank you very much for the comment, Nadine.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on April 12, 2016:

Your medical hubs are always so interesting and informative. Many thanks for this info.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 07, 2016:

Thank you very much, pinto2011. I appreciate your visit.

Subhas from New Delhi, India on March 07, 2016:

This is really a very helpful and informative article which is also very useful in our day to day life. We need to know about this.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 17, 2015:

I will, too, poetryman!

poetryman6969 on December 17, 2015:

Ear candling sounds pretty bizarre so I will pass on it!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 16, 2015:

Thank you very much for the kind comment, Nadine. I always appreciate your visits.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on December 16, 2015:

I always learn a great deal from your hubs, and this was again very informative. I always like the way to write about scientific or health related information. Many thanks. ( never knew about cats liking earwax.)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 25, 2015:

Thank you very much for the comment, Stella. I hope you find a solution for your ear pain. Best wishes.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on September 25, 2015:

Alicia, I'm glad you wrote this hub. I have had problems with my ear. Never thought the ear could hurt so much. Thanks, Stella

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 11, 2015:

I'm glad that your mother's hearing problem was helped, Peg. You are so right - ear care is very important. Thanks for the visit.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 11, 2015:

You've made this topic quite interesting and shared useful information, I had no idea that ear wax and body odor could be related. That is really bizarre.

Recently, my mother lost her hearing overnight. Although her hearing has been growing worse as she approaches ninety, this was cause for concern. I took her to an ear specialist and they flushed her ears with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and warm water. It took over an hour but a large block of wax came out and her hearing has improved tremendously. I was amazed at the amount of wax that had accumulated inside her ear canal. Ear care is truly important.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 07, 2015:

Thank you, DWDavisRSL. It's nice to meet you.

DW Davis from Eastern NC on April 07, 2015:

Having suffered from occasional impaction when I was younger, I am able to appreciate the information and guidance you provide in your Hub. Thank you for reminding me of several important guidelines and teaching me many things I did not know about ear care.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 16, 2015:

Thank you, Rota. I appreciate your comment.

Rota on February 16, 2015:

Very informative - it was so interesting to learn that people's ear wax and odour is related.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2014:

Thank you for the lovely comment, RTalloni! I appreciate your visit very much. I love learning new things at HubPages, too. There is so much information to be discovered.

RTalloni on December 02, 2014:

One of the neat things about HP is that you never know what interesting information you will come across. Though I could have looked up something on this topic, I wouldn't have done so today and therefore, I would not have learned more about the subject than I ever thought I would know! Having these details in "my back pocket" will be useful one day, whether for a personal or family/friend's need, or as an object lesson in conversation/writing--experience tells me it's gonna happen. :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2014:

Thanks for the very interesting comment, Judy. I appreciate your visit.

Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on November 23, 2014:

Very fascinating. I used to have a lot of wet ear wax just like my father. One day my doctor who believe in a lot of alternative things, told me that excessive ear wax can be a symptom vitamin A deficiency. He recommend that I start taking nature vitamin A in the form of Beta Carotene. I started taking it and the wax went away. It's funny, but I almost missed being able to clean out all that wax, but I know I'm much healthier and hear better without.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 23, 2014:

I'm very sorry about your problem, Jazley, but since I'm not a doctor I can't help you. I suggest that you have a serious talk with your mom, explaining how bad the problem is and asking her to either make a doctor's appointment for you or take you to a medical clinic. Good luck.

Jazley on September 23, 2014:

I have one ear that's always so itchy inside and im always scratching it. But with my other ear its the outside of it and Ive scratched it to bleeding a lot and it looks really terrible and embarrassing. What should I do? My mom knows but wont do anything.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 01, 2014:

Thank you so much for the lovely comment, wabash annie! I appreciate it very much.

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on September 01, 2014:

An excellent article!! I bookmark those I want to reread but that list is now so very long. You have written about so many informative and/or interesting topics ... I must read them thoroughly when I first see them.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 05, 2014:

Thank you very much for the return visit, Linda! I appreciate the share and all the votes, too. I hope your ear issues are resolved soon.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on May 05, 2014:

Had to come back and read this article as I've been having ear issues as of late. I think part of it is allergies and part of it is wax build up. You did an amazing job on this informative article. Sharing-Voted Up and hit many buttons.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 19, 2014:

Thank you very much for the kind comment, quizbomb! It's nice to meet you.

quizbomb from Lancashire, United Kingdom on March 19, 2014:

Wow, you're putting me to shame with my own hubs - that was excellent and I think you covered the topic thoroughly. I never knew there were different types of ear wax let alone based on genetics - Very interesting, thanks :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 20, 2014:

Thank you very much, ologsinquito. I appreciate your visit and comment.

ologsinquito from USA on February 20, 2014:

This was fascinating. I had no idea that the type of earwax you produce is determined by your genes.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 13, 2014:

Thank you, Audrey. I appreciate the comment!

Audrey Howitt from California on February 13, 2014:

I didn't know that ear wax could be so interesting!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 06, 2013:

Hi, ignugent17. Thanks for the comment and for sharing the interesting story!

ignugent17 on December 06, 2013:

Thanks for your information. I know it has a use in some ways :-). I remember my classmate in elementary that his mother would really clean his ears . We tease him because of the baby oil hi mother puts and makes it look shiny.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 30, 2013:

Thank you so much, Deb. I appreciate all your visits and comments!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on November 30, 2013:

So informative and fascinating, as always. You always seem to find the best topics to keep me interested!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment, Cat! I appreciate your visit. It's interesting to read about other people's experiences with impacted ear wax, since I've never had this problem myself.

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on November 23, 2013:

Wow! Everything I ever wanted to know about earwax and more- all right here :) I can remember having needed ear lavage as a child for impaction, now all is fine. Quite interesting research re. wax type and ethnicity as well as relationships to sweat glands and B.O. tendencies. This is a very informative piece- thank you!

Cat :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2013:

Hi, Jackie. Thanks for the visit and the comment. I'm sorry about your itchy ears! The information about the deodorant sounds very interesting. I'll check it out.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 23, 2013:

Very interesting. I have too little wax and very sensitive inner ears I suppose because of it. Itchy, lol. It is really irritating of older men to let this prevent them from hearing. lol

Don't know how I relate according to body odor but I found an absolutely fabulous natural home-made deodorant from one of my 'hugs', the one from Hawaii and I will never worry about odor or buying deodorant again, you should check it out. I have used it for weeks now and there are no words to build it up enough.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 22, 2013:

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your comment.

Mike Robbers from London on November 22, 2013:

Very informative hub Alicia,taught me some very important details that i wasn't aware of,thanks for sharing!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 20, 2013:

Hi, FullOfLoveSites. I've never heard anyone say that they find cleaning their ears relaxing before! Thank you very much for the comment.

FullOfLoveSites from United States on November 20, 2013:

Now I understand why there's an earwax. Like the "pickings" from the nose, the earwax also serves to clean our ears. I have a dry earwax, and regularly clean my ears. Whenever I hear a "crackling" sound whenever I clean my ears I quite get excited (of sorts) of the chances of "fishing out" a larger earwax (and it often happens). Hahaha.

But cleaning my ears is quite a relaxing activity. Thanks for the info about the other ways (as well as the proper ways) of cleaning ears.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 19, 2013:

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Dianna. Ear wax and its background are very interesting topics!

Dianna Mendez on November 19, 2013:

This was a fascinating read. I didn't realize there were two different kinds and how they are linked to a person's origin. Interesting that armpit odor can indicate the type of wax one has.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 17, 2013:

Hi, Nell. Yes, ear wax is interesting, but learning about it does involve some "Eww" moments! Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your visit.

Nell Rose from England on November 17, 2013:

Well who knew about the earwax and the body smell? great info! and really useful for everybody who has blocked ears or just needs to know about this subject, a bit a a Ew second with the cat info! lol!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 17, 2013:

Hi, alexadry. Yes, the idea of collecting ear wax and then using it in paintings is yucky! I suppose the painters of the time were happy, though! Thanks for the visit and comment.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 17, 2013:

Hi, Bill. Thanks for the comment, the vote and the share. As always, I appreciate your visit. It would be interesting to know whether dogs like the taste of human ear wax too! I hope the rest of the weekend is enjoyable for you.

Adrienne Farricelli on November 17, 2013:

An interesting hub, just the other day my dad told me he noticed an increase in ear wax, and was curious to learn more about it. Yuck, ear wax was added to the paints used to illustrate medieval manuscripts! Not sure I would want one of those paintings!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 17, 2013:

Another fascinating hub Linda. Very interesting that the type of ear wax we have is related to underarm odor. Who knew? You always amaze me with your knowledge. I wonder if dogs like the taste of ear wax also? Our dog seems to like licking peoples ears.

Great job. Voted up, shared, etc... Have a great weekend.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment and all the votes, Minnetonka Twin! No one in my immediate family has needed to get ear wax removed. I guess we don't make much wax!

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on November 16, 2013:

What a informative hub on ear wax. I've had to go to the doctor to get my ears cleaned because of compacted wax. Loved the FYI on earwax and under arm odor. Hit many buttons and voted up.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Hi, Christy. It is a surprising connection! I think it's an interesting one, too. Genetics as a whole is a fascinating topic. Thanks for the comment.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

I certainly learned a lot here at this hub. I did not know, for instance, that the ear is related to smelly armpits- I had no idea there was a connection between those two areas! Very informative.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thank you very much, drbj. Ear wax may seem like a strange topic to write about, but I find it fascinating! It's a more important topic than some people realize, too.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on November 16, 2013:

Never thought, Alicia, that I would read an entire article, word for word, about ear wax. So I appreciate your making this information so palatable and interesting. Your ear wax facts were illuminating to say the least. :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Hi, Bill. As always, thanks for the visit and the comment. It's sad when ear wax problems increase as we get older!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

I'm sorry about your ear impactions, Austinstar. They sound very unpleasant! In a way, though, I wish I had an ear wax problem that was responsible for my loss of hearing. I have sensorineural hearing loss. If ear wax was responsible for my hearing problem, at least it could be treated.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thanks for the comment, Hezekiah. I appreciate your visit.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Hi, Crafty. Thanks for the visit. Ringing in the ears can be annoying. I know from personal experience! I've had tinnitus for a very long time. Luckily, I'm used to it and usually forget about it, until something draws my attention to the ringing, like reading about it or talking about it. Good luck with your tinnitus. I hope you find a solution.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment and the votes, DDE! A cotton bud could be used to clean the pinna, but health experts say that it should never be put into the ear canal.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thank you, Jodah. Yes, the ears should be looked after. As you say, they are very important! Ears that don't work properly interfere with life.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2013:

Thanks for the visit, Martin. I'm sorry about your ear wax problem. It must be annoying!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2013:

This was never really a factor in my life until I started getting into my fifties; now I am fully aware that ear wax exists. LOL Thanks for the information; I loved your first sentence.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on November 16, 2013:

Thanks for not being gross! I have had ear impactions and believe me, they are not fun. Thankfully, I haven't had one in many years now. I hope I never have to have a hearing aid.

Hezekiah from Japan on November 16, 2013:

Useful Hub, I didn't know about the risks or dangers of ear wax. I always thought that it just obscured hearing, if not cleaned out properly.

CraftytotheCore on November 16, 2013:

Wow, I never knew there was so much too ear wax! What an educational and informational article. I have had ringing in my ear for the past six months since my gallbladder surgery. I don't know if there is a correlation. I've been to the doctor and had my ears checked. They said nothing is wrong. I have bad allergies though so that might be contributing to it.

When I was a child, I used to get really painful swimmer's ear after swimming in a pool during the summer. I remember the pediatrician taking a metal pick like object and getting in my ear deep with that thing. Oh, I can still feel the dreaded pain when I think about it.

Fortunately my own children have had no problems with their ears at all.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 16, 2013:

Earwax - Facts, Functions and Health Problems I learned so much about the ear from this hub. Never put a cotton bud in the ear, it is dangerous but I guess with proper care it should be okay? An informative, useful and most helpful hub on his topic. Voted up, useful interesting

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 16, 2013:

Very thorough information and good advice Alicia. It's probably a subject most people would rather just ignore, but the ears are an important but delicate part of the body and should be looked after. I have had a build up of ear wax at one stage and had to have it removed by a doctor, so I know what it's like. I had no idea about the connection between the type of ear wax and body odor however. Good interesting hub.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 16, 2013:

Thank you for this. Ear wax is a big problem for me. I have to keep my ears clean often,