Does Ear Wax Removal Hurt?

Ear wax removal is a common procedure performed to alleviate discomfort and restore optimal hearing. However, many individuals hesitate to seek ear wax removal due to concerns about potential pain or discomfort. In this article, we will delve into the topic of ear wax removal and address the question, “Does ear wax removal hurt?” We will explore different methods of ear wax removal, discuss the potential sensations involved, and provide insights into children’s ear wax removal.

Understanding Ear Wax Removal:

The sensation experienced during ear wax removal can vary among individuals. According to Amy Sarow, Au.D., Audiologist and Forbes Health Advisory Board member, in the average person, the ear is shaped so that gravity helps any dead skin, cerumen [earwax], or other debris to naturally migrate out of the ear without additional assistance. When natural earwax regulation isn’t enough, the excess buildup requires external removal methods. While some individuals may report mild discomfort or a feeling of pressure during the procedure, it is important to note that ear wax removal should not cause intense pain or severe discomfort when performed by a trained professional. Here are some additional key points to consider when discussing the potential sensations associated with ear wax removal:

  • Discomfort: During certain methods of ear wax removal, such as ear syringing or microsuction, individuals may experience mild discomfort or a sensation of pressure in the ear. This is primarily due to the introduction of water or the gentle suction applied to remove the wax. However, it is crucial to understand that this discomfort is usually temporary and subsides shortly after the procedure. 
  • Sensitivity: Individual sensitivity plays a role in determining the level of discomfort experienced during ear wax removal. Some individuals may have a higher threshold for discomfort and may find the procedure to be more tolerable, while others with heightened sensitivity may perceive even minor sensations as more uncomfortable. It is essential to communicate any discomfort experienced during the procedure with the healthcare professional performing the ear wax removal, as they can make adjustments to ensure maximum comfort.
  • Pain: Pain during ear wax removal is relatively uncommon and should not be a typical part of the procedure. If an individual experiences pain during the removal process, it may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention from a healthcare professional. Pain could be a sign of an infection, inflammation, or injury, such as a perforated eardrum. In such cases, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment.

It is worth noting that the discomfort or pain experienced during ear wax removal can also depend on the extent of the wax buildup. Severe or impacted ear wax may require additional care and attention to ensure effective and comfortable removal.

Different Methods of Ear Wax Removal:

  • Ear Syringing: Ear syringing, also known as ear irrigation, is a common method used for ear wax removal. It involves the use of a syringe filled with warm water or saline solution to flush out the excess wax from the ear canal. The water is gently directed into the ear canal, creating a pressure that helps dislodge and flush out the ear wax. Ear syringing is typically performed by a healthcare professional in a clinical setting.
  • Ear Candling: Ear candling, also referred to as thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative method that involves the use of a hollow cone-shaped candle made of cotton or linen, infused with beeswax, herbs, and essential oils. The candle is placed in the ear canal, and the opposite end is lit. Proponents claim that the heat generated by the burning candle creates a vacuum effect, drawing out ear wax and other impurities. However, scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of ear candling, and it is not recommended due to the associated risks, including burns, injury, and the potential for ear canal blockage.
  • Ear Drops: Ear drops, also known as cerumenolytic drops, are a common over-the-counter option for softening ear wax and facilitating its removal. These drops typically contain substances like hydrogen peroxide, saline solution, or mineral oil. The drops are instilled into the ear canal, allowing them to penetrate and soften the wax over time. 
  • Microsuction: Microsuction is a widely recognized and effective method for ear wax removal. It involves using a specialized device called a microsuction pump, which generates gentle suction to remove excess ear wax. The procedure is performed by trained healthcare professionals, such as audiologists or ENT specialists, using a microscope or magnifying glasses for enhanced visibility. Microsuction allows for precise and controlled removal without the use of water or syringes. It is considered a safe procedure that minimizes the risk of complications and is well-tolerated by most individuals.

Children’s Ear Wax Removal:

Children may have heightened sensitivity and fear surrounding ear wax removal procedures. It is important to approach their ear care with patience, compassion, and age-appropriate explanations. Healthcare professionals who specialize in pediatric care are skilled in providing a comfortable and child-friendly environment during the procedure. They may utilize techniques to distract or engage the child to minimize any potential discomfort.


Ear wax removal can be achieved through various methods, each with its own advantages and considerations. Ear syringing, when performed by a healthcare professional, can effectively flush out ear wax using warm water or saline solution. However, it requires proper technique to avoid potential risks. Ear candling, on the other hand, lacks scientific support and poses risks of burns and injury, making it an unreliable method. Ear drops are commonly used to soften ear wax, facilitating its removal through natural processes or professional procedures. Microsuction is a highly regarded method performed by trained professionals, offering precise and controlled removal without discomfort or complications. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate method for ear wax removal based on individual circumstances and needs.

Article written by Ear wax removal Leeds

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