How To Clean Baby Ears?

Earwax usually builds up, dries out and moves to the outer ear where it falls out. When it builds faster than your baby’s body can get rid of it, it may lead to interferences in your baby’s hearing speech development besides itching and earaches.

Is there a healthy amount of earwax for kids?

No typical amount of ear wax is normal. It is usually very common to notice wax in kid’s ears. Most times, there might be more wax in one ear than the other.

Earwax symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Ear pain
  • Fullness or plugged sensation
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Decreased hearing
  • Drainage or itching from the ear

Causes of earwax build-up:

The glands in the ears are continuously producing ear wax. Over time, the wax gets pushed outwards towards the ear by hairs known as cilia causing it to fall out. The most common cause of earwax in children are:

  • Earplugs: any earplugs can push the wax back down into the ear and cause blockage
  • Cotton swabs: the most common cause of ear wax is as a result of cotton swam usage. When well-meaning parents try to clean their children’s ears they most of the times push the wax back into the ear causing a blockage
  • Fingers: other parents may decide to clean their children’s ears with the fingers. However, fingers may push the earwax down back to the ear.

When is a wax problem a problem to your child?

Ear wax should only be a concern when it causes the ear canal to be plugged with wax. When this happens, your child may experience itching, poor hearing as well as hear odd noises in their ear. A more severe problem caused by ear wax is trapping water in the external ear canal. If you notice that your child does not respond to sounds, show signs of pain or an unusual amount of ear wax oozing out of the ear canal, it is an indication of a blockage and should be cleaned.

Ear infection vs earwax build-up:

Sometimes it may be hard for you as a parent to distinguish between an ear infection or build-up. This is because, in both, you may see that your child is digging in their ear with fingers, rubbing or tugging at their ears. The huge difference is that a build-up does not cause severe symptoms such as sleep difficulty, fevers and an ear infection.

Treatment of earwax:

Visit your healthcare provider if you notice your child has symptoms of ear wax impaction. This is because other conditions may cause these symptoms and is essential to be sure that the culprit is ear wax before trying any home remedies.

Visit a doctor if:

  • Your child has persistent high fever or vomiting
  • Your child experiences a sudden loss of hearing
  • Your child has severe spinning sensation, inability to walk or loss of balance

Exams and tests:

Your doctor can diagnose earwax blockage or any other condition such as eardrum perforation by listening to your child’s symptoms and the inspecting the ear using an ear-scope.

Conventional treatment:

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you try an earwax removal method at home unless your child has a perforation in the eardrum.

Alternatively, a pediatrician may use a surgical tool known as a curette to clean out the earwax. If the wax is too hard to remove or is way too deep, the pediatrician may use earwax softening drops. After a few days, the pediatrician may use hydrogen peroxide or warm water to flush the earwax out.

In rare cases where a child refuses to cooperate or sit still, the procedure will be done in an operating room after the child is put under general anesthesia.

If the wax is too stubborn, you may be referred to a pediatric otolaryngologist who will vacuum the earwax out.

How to clean baby ears:

1. Don’t use cotton swabs/earbuds

Cotton swabs and earbuds are the primary cause of earwax build-up. Avoid using a cotton swab when cleaning the baby’s ear canals. You should instead use baby-friendly earbuds or cotton swabs to clean the outside of the ear.

Remember that using a cotton swab or earbud in cleaning your baby’s ear may make your baby follow suit and start inserting things into their ears too!

2. Washcloth

The recommended way is to clean your baby’s ears with a soft washcloth with warm water. Just ensure that you wring off excess water from the washcloth to prevent it from entering your baby’s ear. Use the washcloth to clean out any earwax in the outer year. Be careful not to push it inside the ear since it will only push the wax further down the ear canal and may even cause pain to your baby.

3. Use recommended ear drops

If you notice that your baby has plenty of earwax build-up, you can use eardrops that soften it. Once the wax is softened, you can use a washcloth to clean out the wax. Ensure that you ask your doctor before using the eardrops on your child’s ears.

The best time to use the ear drops is when your child is calm. Use a dropper to administer the drops after laying the child on your lap and the clogged ear points up.

4. Lukewarm water during bath time

Another fantastic trick is to use lukewarm water during bath time to remove ear wax. You only need to squirt a little lukewarm water into the blocked using an ear bulb. The water should be at body temperature to help prevent dizziness you will the notice earwax flowing out, clean the flowing earwax with a washcloth. Ensure that you use a squinter since exposing the ear to water directly is harmful.

5. Use mineral oil or olive oil

Mineral oil or olive oil can also be used to soften earwax. Make sure to clean them after that with a washcloth and warm water. You should know that oils are the main component of most over-the-counter earwax removal kits. However, mineral oils should only be used when recommended by a doctor. Avoid using them unless you are given the green light by your pediatrician.

Preventing earwax blockages:

Earwax blockage can most of the times be prevented by avoiding the use of cotton swabs, earbuds, fingers or any other objects that may push the earwax deeper into the ear canal.