Your ear canal is lined with skin. New skin cells grow from the centre of your ear drum, outwards, and down the canal like a conveyor belt. This forms a protective layer called keratin. It takes six months for the skin to move from the ear drum to the outer ear.
Wax is made only in the first 1cm of the canal. It is made up of dead skin, oil, and hairs, and constantly dissolves the keratin coming down the canal. The wax and keratin make the ear waterproof, antibacterial, and antifungal. Wax also keeps out water, insects, and dust.
Wax should be wiped away each day – wipe only from the outer edge of the ear opening with a towel or flannel. Do not let shower water, soap, or shampoo enter your ear canal. Lift your chin up when rinsing your head.
If any object is inserted into the ear, the wax, dead skin, and debris gets pushed down further back into the canal. This may create a blockage or take away the protective skin layer which makes it easier for an infection to occur.
Press your finger onto your outer ear and rub it.
Flap air in with your hand, a piece of cardboard or plastic, or use a hair dryer.
These stop the normal self-cleaning process. Check for wax every 6 months, especially before swimming or diving.
Make ear canals warm and moist, which is a good environment for infections to grow. Remove muffs often, flap air in to dry.