Tips for Removing Ear Wax from Children

Removing ear wax from a child's ears is simple and necessary, right? Not necessiarly. When you notice ear wax in your child's ear, it can be tempting to stick a swab in there ear to clean it. After all, this may be what you do to yourself; why shouldn't you do it to your child? One reason is that sticking a swab-or anything, for that matter-into your child's ear can puncture an eardrum, creating a much worse problem than a little ear wax. Sticking something into your child's ear can also push the earwax further into the ear canal, which can cause a problem. 

What Is Ear Wax?
Ear wax is a natural layer of protection for your child's eardrum, and in most cases does not need to be removed at all. Earwax is also known as cerumen, and it helps keep ears clean and healthy. The ceruminous glands secrete earwax to trap dust, dirt and other harmful things and keep them from getting to the eardrum. Usually excess earwax dries up and makes its way out of the ear. To remove it, you can clean the outside of your child's ear with a washcloth with warm water, or a cotton swab moistened with peroxide or oil. Just make sure to stay outside of the ear.

Too Much Earwax?
Sometimes your body will produce more ear wax than it is able to eliminate. An excess of earwax may cause an earache or decreased hearing in the affected ear. If you notice a large amount of ear wax buildup, call your child's pediatrician. There is no way to know whether your child has too much ear wax without a doctor looking at him. Your doctor can recommend what, if anything, you should do to remove your child's earwax. 

If your child's doctor says there is too much earwax, there are several ways to treat it. Your doctor may wash it out with warm liquid, or he may use a curette, a thin, plastic piece of equipment. He may also use an ear wax syringe filled with warm water. If ear wax buildup is a regular problem, your child's doctor may recommend you rinse her ear at home, or she may prescribe a medication for your child.

At-Home Care
Make sure you consult your child's doctor before removing ear wax at home. With the doctor's approval, first soften the wax for one to two days. This can be done by dropping a few drops of baby oil into the ear with an eye dropper. After two days, you can use a three-ounce rubber bulb syringe to squirt warm water into the ear. First straighten the ear canal by tilting your child's head and pulling on the outer ear. Then have your child tilt his head again to let the water drain out. Afterward, dry your child's outer ear carefully with a towel. 

You can dry the inside of her ear by using the eye dropper to drop rubbing alcohol into the ear and then having her tilt her head to let it drain out. To prevent earwax buildup in the future, keep your child hydrated; dehydration can make earwax thicker.

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