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If you have a pack of cotton swabs handy, check out the warning label on the side that should be a variation of this: ‘Caution, do not enter the ear canal. Penetrating the ear canal can lead to injury.’ At first glance, I thought, but isn’t this what cotton swabs are for?

And as it turns out, most if not all ear specialists will tell you that these little swabs belong in many places, but not your ear. If you were wondering why, the reasons are pretty disturbing if you have used them for that.

1. Cleaning with swabs can cause brain infections.

While this isn’t something that occurs very often, it can definitely happen. After a 31-year-old man reported to the ER after having seizures, the man began explaining a number of strange symptoms he had experienced through the past few weeks, including headaches, and discharge. After further inspection, they found infection caused by use of cotton buds.

2. As it turns out, we need our earwax.

Yes, it may seem gross, but actually, earwax is necessary. It helps us fight infections, keeps bugs out, and lubricates the canals that keep us from having dry and itchy skin. 

3. You can actually sabotage your hearing.

When we remove ear wax incorrectly with ear buds, we can cause our ears to become impacted. This can and often does eventually lead to hearing loss.

4. Removal of too much wax will cause dryness.

Dry and itchy ears are more easily infected. And on top of that, the wax is what prevents infection, so we open ourselves up to major infections.

5. You can lodge the bud into the canal, causing pain and much worse.

This is one of the most common and painful occurrences when we use swabs to clean wax from our ear canals. And while the most common times when this happens won’t leave us with permanent damage, there is always the potential.

6. Earwax Cleans Itself

Through talking, yawning, and other movements and pressure, ear wax is naturally eradicated from our canals. Therefore, there is no need in removing it yourself.

7. It makes wax harder to remove.

When we remove wax, or have the intention of removing it, the use of swabs can actually push the wax inward, causing it to impact. In turn, it may be necessary to have a specialist help us to remove the excess.

Image via Self