Can ear drops remove ear wax?

May 13, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Current NHS guidelines state “If your ears are blocked with earwax, put 2 to 3 drops of medical grade olive or almond oil in your ear 3 to 4 times a day. Do this for 3 to 5 days.”

There is a BUT coming! Whilst it is generally agreed that using olive oil will usually soften earwax, there is no evidence that the earwax will then spontaneously come out of the ears. Often after using olive oil in the ears, a person will often complain that their ear is now worse than before. This can happen due to the wax softening, expanding and sometimes moving closer to the eardrum. What may start out as a lump of wax stuck in the middle of the earcanal, can turn into a honey like substance that moves closer to the eardrum, creating a trickier wax removal procedure.

What are the best ear drops for wax removal?

Typically, there are water-based and oil-based ear drops. Water based include sodium bicarbonate drops and urea hydrogen peroxide drops. Oil based drops include olive oil and almond oil. All ear wax drops and sprays aim to make the wax thinner and softer by being absorbed by the ear wax. Furthermore, they can lubricate the layer of skin lining the ear canal, this helping the wax to move outwards a little easier.  In addition, water-based ear wax drops and sprays tend to have some breaking-up action on ear wax.  You will often hear a fizzing noise in the ear, when using these more active types of drops. 

Unfortunately, the use of drops alone rarely gets rid of problematic ear wax. It may make it easier to remove but, in some cases, can make it more difficult for a hearcare professional. The ear wax can become so soft and sticky that it actually moves closer to the eardrum, making removal more difficult.

Can sodium bicarbonate drops be used to remove ear wax?

These water-based drops are often used to break up an soften impacted wax, however as mentioned previously, it is unlikely the wax will fall out of the ear canal. Further, ear wax removal techniques are usually necessary which requires careful examination of the ears using specialist equipment.

How long should you use ear drops for wax removal?

To assist with ear wax removal by a specialist, ear drops can be used prior to an appointment. Often, a few days of using ear drops will be enough. It is best to let your ear professional give you advice on the use of drops any longer than a few days.

How do Otex ear drops work?

The active ingredient in Otex ear drops is urea hydrogen peroxide. These drops attempt to break up the ear wax into smaller pieces, in the hope that these will fall out of the ear naturally. As talked about previously, in most cases, a trained professional in ear wax removal will be necessary to remove ear wax, even if softened by ear drops.

How to use sofradex eardrops

Sofradex eardrops are no longer available due to them being discontinued. They were used to treat mild external ear inflammation/infection and contained antibiotic and corticosteroid to fight infection and soothe inflammation.

How long does ciprofloxacin ear drops take to work?

These are medically prescribed drops used to treat infections of the outer (external ear). The GP or medical professional prescribing these drops will inform you how long they must be used for. Typically, this will be for a period of seven days.

Limitations of using eardrops

As discussed, ear drops and sprays do not instantly remove ear wax. They may make things worse for a while too. For hearing aid users, this can be a real problem. Occasionally, ear wax drops and sprays can result in ear infections and irritation. This is more likely in people who have eczema or history of developing ear infections. 

Ear wax drops and sprays are also often not recommended to be used if:

  • You have allergy to the ear drops and sprays or any of its ingredients
  • You have a perforation of your eardrum or a grommet in place
  • You currently have an ear infection
  • You have previously had problems using ear wax drops and sprays in the past

For safe, effective earwax removal, book an appointment with our Clinical Audiologist today

Book an appointment with our audiologist