Explain It's Usually Better to Leave Earwax Alone

New guidelines will lead to new questions about removing earwax.

Tell patients it's usually better to leave earwax alone unless it's causing problems...such as hearing loss, ear fullness, or tinnitus. Overcleaning can lead to irritation, infection, or wax impaction.

If a wax remover is desired, suggest carbamide peroxide (Debrox, etc), hydrogen peroxide, olive or "sweet" oil, docusate liquid, or even water. There's no good evidence one works better than another.

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