Earwax is that sticky material all of us have seen inside our ears at some point or the other. It is made of dead skin cells and produced by ear glands. While it might seem like a menace, and many of us tend to ‘clean’ it using earbuds, earwax can actually be useful! It provides a barrier against water and doesn’t let anything harm the sensitive ear canal.
In this article we will learn :
- What Causes Baby Earwax Build-up
- What Baby’s Ear Wax Colour Indicates Safe & Effective
- Tips for Cleaning Wax From Baby’s Ear
However, if the earwax starts building up too much or starts obstructing the ear canal, it can indicate a problem. It might even interfere with your baby’s hearing and speech development, besides causing discomfort. There are also certain colours of ear wax that can indicate a health problem. Let’s understand how to find out what your baby’s ear wax colour indicates, and how to clean it safely.
What Causes Baby Earwax Build-up
Firstly, do not worry too much if you see earwax in your baby’s ears; it is normal for ears to generate wax. Usually, this wax is transported out of the ear canal by small hairs called cilia. But sometimes, this wax may not get carried out and get forced back into the ear, leading to build-up.
Watch: Why Q-Tips or Earbuds Can Be Harmful for The Ears
What Baby’s Ear Wax Colour Indicates
|Ear Wax Colour||Meaning||Action Needed|
|Grey||Indicates dust, common in babies living in cities||Nothing to worry about. Follow ear wax cleaning guide below|
|Red / Blood Traces||Eardrum is perforated, infections||Visit the doctor|
|Black||Fungal infection||Visit the doctor|
|White||Vitamin and micronutrient deficiency (especially iron and copper)||Feed iron and copper-rich foods like sweet potatoes, beans, oats, etc.|
Note: If your baby’s earwax smells bad or is liquid, it can signify an infection. Visit the doctor to get it checked.
Safe & Effective Tips for Cleaning Wax From Baby’s Ear
Here is a full guide on the gentlest approach to cleaning baby ears:
1. Do NOT Use Cotton Swabs / Earbuds This may seem counter-intuitive – don’t we all use cotton swabs or earbuds to clean our ears? Well, as per experts, it is a cotton swab that is often what causes earwax buildup in the first place! It is not recommended at all for parents to use cotton swabs to clean the baby’s ear canals. Only use baby-friendly cotton swabs or earbuds to clean the outside ear.
Another risk with this is that your baby may also follow you and start putting things into his ear!
2. Use a Washcloth to Clean the Ears Washcloth for cleaning earsThe best way to clean baby ears is to use a soft washcloth with warm water. Using the washcloth, clean out any earwax in the outer ear. Do not push it inside the ear; this will only push the wax deeper in and may even cause pain to your baby.
3. Use Doctor-Recommended Ear Drops If your baby has a lot of earwax build-up, you can consider using ear drops to soften it. Once the wax is soft, you will be able to remove it using the washcloth method discussed in #2. This is one of the best ways to remove ear wax. Make sure you ask your doctor before administering any ear drops.
Once your doctor gives a go-ahead, ear drops can be a safe answer to how to clean baby ear wax (and soften it). Choose the time wisely. Many mothers feel that the best time to give eardrops to your baby is when the little one is calm. Lay the baby on your lap and make sure the blocked ear is pointing up. It is recommended to use a dropper to administer the drops. ||
4. Use Lukewarm Water for Cleaning During Bath-Time Another good trick for baby ear wax removal is to use lukewarm water during bath. Simply squirt some lukewarm water into the clogged ear using an ear bulb. You should be able to see earwax flow out. You can then clean this out gently using a washcloth. Make sure to never expose the ear to water directly; it is best to do it gently using a squirter.
5. Make Sure Your Baby is Hydrated If your baby frequently gets earwax build-up, it can also signal that he is not getting enough hydration. Earwax gets denser if the child is dehydrated. Ensure that your baby gets adequate amount of fluids, including breastmilk (or formula) and water (if over 6 months of age).
6. Use Olive Oil or Mineral Oil Olive Oil for Ear Wax RemovalSome experts recommend using olive oil or mineral oil to soften the earwax in your baby’s ears and then clean it. In fact, oils are a major constituent of many over-the-counter earwax-removal kits. However, please do this ONLY when instructed by your doctor. Do not try this without getting a go-ahead from your paediatrician first.
7. Check if Baby Has Earwax Build-up or an Ear Infection Ear infections in babies are fairly common. Some ear infections will cause your baby to tug at his ears, or dig into his ears with his finger. It is easy to confuse this with earwax build-up.
8. Seek Help From the Paediatrician If the above tips and solutions don’t work for your baby, you will need to seek help from the paediatrician. He will use a curette (a surgical tool) to clean out the earwax. In case the wax is too hard, he will first soften it using ear drops, so your baby doesn’t feel any pain.
Earwax build-up is a normal part of childhood (and adulthood!) and doesn’t usually pose complications. However, if your baby is experiencing pain, hearing problems or discharge, it could signal a more serious problem. Do not hesitate to consult an ENT specialist for