Ear Wax

  • Ear wax is normal it provides protection for your ears
  • Your ears are self-cleaning
  • The movement of your jaw while eating and talking moves the wax along the canal
  • Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes deafness, pain or if a health professional needs a clear view of the ear drum

What makes ear wax?

  • The amount of wax produced varies from person to person
  • Some people produce excessive amounts of wax and this can block the ear canal
  • Wearing a hearing aid, ear plugs and or head phones can interfere with wax expulsion
  • Narrow and or hairy ear canals
  • If you are elderly – the wax produced may be harder and drier
  • Dry skin in people who suffer with eczema or psoriasis


  • Do not use cotton buds to clean the ear. This forces the wax deeper into the canal and can cause damage, trauma and possible infection
  • Do not use objects such as matches, hair grips, crochet hooks, knitting needles, keys etc. this can cause trauma and possible infection
  • If your ears are itchy do not scratch or rub them with your finger nails or any other objects
  • Do not use anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.


  • Try and keep your ears dry. When washing your hair, showering or swimming putting some Vaseline around the inner part of your ear can help
  • Don’t put your head under the water when bathing
  • If you regularly get blocked ears, use olive oil drops weekly

When to see the GP or Advanced Practitioner

If you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear
  • Sudden deafness
  • Dizziness
  • Foreign bodies (you may be advised to attend A&E)

50% of people will not require ear syringing when following this advice

What you can do to manage the problem?

  • If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms above, the following is recommended:
  • Olive Oil Drops/Spray – It is recommended that this is done 2-3 times daily for at least 14 days.
  • Lie on your side with the affected ear uppermost
  • Pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal
  • Put olive oil into the affected ear(s) and gently massage just in front of the ear
  • Stay lying on your side for 10 minutes to allow the wax to soak up the oil
  • Afterwards, wipe away any excess oil and plug with Vaseline soaked cotton wool.
  • Your hearing problem may initially worsen after first starting to use the olive oil drops; this is why you are advised to concentrate on treating one ear at a time if both ears are blocked with wax.
  • In most cases, the wax will have softened sufficiently to encourage the wax to come out without further intervention.
  • However, if you feel your hearing is still impaired, please make an appointment with the practice nurse for further advice and management.