Though it may have the reputation of being “yucky,” earwax is an essential substance for the health of your ear. It has the important job of lubricating the ear canal so it doesn’t dry out and become irritated, as well as trapping debris and germs.
An article published in the National Library of Medicine reports, “Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes a hearing impairment or other ear-related symptoms. The accumulation of wax occurs for many different reasons, including the over- or under-production of its constituent components, a failure to self-clear because of slow skin migration, or mechanical issues such as the use of cotton buds or hearing aids.”
If your earwax is impacted, or if there are other issues with the ear, it can actually change the color of your earwax. Below we review what the color of your earwax means.
White, Flaky Earwax
White, flaky earwax is perfectly healthy. It may surprise you to learn that it also may be an indicator you lack a certain body-odor-producing chemical.
Yellow, Sticky Earwax
Yellow, sticky earwax is also healthy. It may indicate you do have the body-odor-producing chemical and probably need to wear deodorant.
Orange or Light Brown Earwax
Orange or light brown earwax is healthy as well. The darker color indicates the wax is older and has trapped more debris. This color of earwax is probably what you find in your outer ear canal and your ear bowl.
Dark Brown or Red Earwax
Dark brown or red-tinged earwax could be a sign of an injury within the ear, ranging from a minor scratch in the ear canal to a ruptured eardrum.
Black earwax indicates your earwax is impacted or that there’s a foreign object in the ears. You can try to soften the wax with eardrops from Abington Pharmacy, Card, & Gift on Old York Road and flush out your ears in the shower, but if this doesn’t help, see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician to have your ears professionally cleaned.
Runny or Cloudy Earwax
Runny or cloudy earwax is often a sign of some type of ear infection. It’s important to see an expert ENT physician at Pinnacle ENT promptly to prevent damage to your hearing caused by the infection.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT today.