A general amount of earwax build-up is common during infancy. But many mothers face concerns about cleaning kids’ ears. Being aware of the risks of rupturing eardrums of children, many moms are precarious about cleaning it themselves. Safety is the utmost priority when it comes to cleaning baby ears. There are multiple methods that can be utilized which are safe and easy to understand.
What is Earwax
Earwax, which is also known as cerumen, is a sticky gooey material produced inside the ear. It consists of dead skin cells and is secreted by the glands situated in the lining of the ear. As irritating as earwax might be, it is actually a sign of the normalcy of your baby’s physiology. Furthermore, secretion of earwax is the body’s natural method of preventing water or external infection from entering inside.
How Much Ear Wax is Normal for a Baby
While children and adults may have a generous secretion of earwax, excessive ear wax in babies is generally uncommon. The amount of wax in each ear is not always the same, and one ear may have more earwax than the other. The rule of thumb for healthy earwax is that your paediatrician should be able to see the eardrum clearly, through the wax. If the ear canal is totally blocked by the hardened earwax, or there’s a yellowish flaky wax causing your baby discomfort, then that may be a problem.
Is My Baby’s Ear Paining from Earwax or Ear Infection
When babies experience discomfort in the ears, they tend to start rubbing and pulling their ears, and even poke their fingers inside them, to scratch or relieve the irritation. This is a general reaction to the uncomfortable nature of earwax. However, a build-up of earwax does not result in any fever or sleeping problems, since earwax is a normal secretion of the human body.
Large amounts of earwax can be easily spotted by simply looking into the ear. Sometimes, there might be a little brownish coloured fluid discharging from the ear present inside too. If your baby is in pain, or the earwax looks different than usual, then there is a chance that the pain is from an ear infection. The obvious sign of an infection is high fever or milky white coloured pus draining out from the baby’s ears. This could also mean a perforated eardrum, which can cause intense pain and discomfort due to baby ear wax discharge. Amongst other things, if your baby becomes irritable and starts crying when he lies down and also suffers from diarrhoea, these are tell-tale signs of an ear infection and you should show your baby to a paediatrician as soon as possible.
Reasons of Earwax Build Up in Infants Ear
Earwax generation is one of the natural processes of the human body, similar to that of hair growth. Infant’s ears generate wax all the time as a protective mechanism for the eardrum. Once generated, the earwax is gradually pushed out of the ear via the ear canal. This is done by extremely tiny, hair-like structures inside the ear canal, called cilia.
Since the skin growth inside the ear is also outward, the earwax gets pushed out of the ear canal. Generally gooey and slightly fluid in nature, earwax is known to get denser if your baby isn’t consuming enough fluids. Similarly, when the natural tendency to push wax outside is countered by attempting to clean it with cotton swabs, the action generally results in pushing the earwax deeper within the ear canal. This starts creating an earwax buildup, resulting in a blockage of the ear canal.
How to Clean Your Child’s Ears
Here are a way ways in which you can clean your baby’s ear-wax at home. If you are wondering what to use to clean baby’s ears, here is your answer.
1. Using a Washcloth
The best way to remove earwax is by using a combination of a soft washcloth and warm water, followed by additional actions if required.
Here’s how: Wet the washcloth in warm water. Then, wipe it around the outer area of the baby’s ear to gradually clean any earwax that’s trickled outside. Most of the wax will fall out on its own. The remaining can be wiped off. Do not push the washcloth inside the ear canal. Take your baby to your paediatrician and let them take a look at his ears. Your paediatrician might scrape out the wax inside the ear using a tiny tool.
2. Using Baby Ear Drops
If the build-up is even deeper, you might need to use ear drops. Before administering ear drops, ensure you are the same as recommended by your paediatrician. Calm down your baby and keep him engaged in some activity, else choose a time of the day when your baby is usually silent and rested. Hold the bottle of eardrops in your palms to slightly warm it up. Lay your baby on your lap, with the blocked ear facing towards you. Use an eyedropper and fill it up with the solution in the bottle.
Place the dropper close to the baby’s ear, and drop the solution gradually, until the baby’s ear canal is completely full. Wait a few minutes for the solution to settle inside the ear. Your baby may feel a weird sensation, so ensure to keep it calm. The eardrops soften the wax in the canal, which then flows out of the ear. Use a soft washcloth wet in warm water, and clean up any excess drops and the wax that flowed out of the ear. This treatment needs to be repeated for at least three to five days. Once that’s done, during one of the baby’s baths, use a rubber dropper and squirt lukewarm water into the blocked ear of the baby. Large chunks of wax will flow out of their ear, opening up the ear canal.
3. Using a Cotton Swab
This is similar to using a wash cloth. Use a cotton swab moistened with oil peroxide or warm water, and follow the procedure mentioned above.
Safest Method for Cleaning Baby’s Ears
Any of the methods mentioned above can be used to clean a baby’s ears. It is, however, important to remember what not to do.
The cardinal rule of cleaning an infant’s ears asks parents to stay away from using cotton buds. As convenient and obvious as they might seem, cotton swabs are known to push the earwax further into the ear canal. This worsens the problems and results in earwax build-up, leading to canal blockage. Same goes for using fingers, too. Sticking anything inside the ear canal can result in wax build-up or can cause harm to the eardrum, and may even rupture it. If the earwax problem starts getting worse, it is better to use baby earwax drops with your paediatrician’s recommendation.
Apart from the usual washcloth and warm water techniques, there are a bunch of other home remedies that are useful in cleansing ears of earwax.
Using salt water is the easiest way to soften the earwax and get rid of it.
2. Baby Oil
Baby oil or olive oil can be used with a dropper and ears blocked with cotton, to soften the wax and flow it out.
At times, vinegar and rubbing alcohol are used for removing earwax as well as preventing an ear infection.
4. Water+Baking Soda
A solution of water and 10 percent baking soda is an age-old remedy for getting rid of earwax.
Using glycerine to remove earwax is a popular remedy as well, since its lubricating and moisturizing nature helps loosen hardened wax.
Not all home remedies might be beneficial for your child. It’s always good to get a quick confirmation from your paediatrician before administering the same.
Precautions While Cleaning Baby Ears
As simple as it may sound, cleaning baby ears is not an easy task and the slightest mistake can cause your baby intense pain. Baby ear care needs to be prioritized.
- Make sure the child is calm and engaged
- Use a clean washcloth or cotton swab
- Consult a doctor if the wax is too deep
- Don’t use any pointed objects inside the ears.
- Avoid inserting cotton swabs or ear buds.
- Don’t use cold water to drain out the excess earwax.
- Don’t spray water or any liquid inside the ear with force
- Do not clean your ears too often or too hard.
When to Visit Doctor?
Parents wonder how often to clean baby ears. Visit your paediatrician when there is an excessive build-up of earwax and you are unable to remove the wax with these remedies. Also, if there are symptoms of infection such as drainage of milky fluid, ear pain, fever, or even hearing loss after removal of wax, visit your doctor immediately.
Baby earwax is not harmful unless it collects in abnormal quantities or gets infected. Safe and careful measures to clean your baby’s ears using home remedies are always beneficial. If anything seems out of the ordinary, or if you intend to try a different remedy, always check with your paediatrician and get their opinion.