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Wax softeners

BMJ Group Medical Reference

You can use simple remedies such as olive oil, almond oil, or sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water to soften wax in your ears. [17] You can also get branded drops from a pharmacist. You may wish to use softeners regularly, if you are prone to a build-up of ear wax. Or you might be advised to use them before having your ears syringed.

Some brand names of ear drops you can buy are:

  • Cerumol

  • Exterol

  • Molcer

  • Otex

  • Waxsol.

There's some evidence that wax softeners can help to break up ear wax, so that it's easier to remove or comes out on its own. But most of the research is of poor quality. Also, it's not clear which type of softener works best. Using drops of any sort appears to be better than no treatment. Some research has found that drops of sterile water work as well as other products. [18] [19]

Softeners don't work for everyone. In one study, using wax softeners for five days helped about 1 in 5 people get rid of a build-up of ear wax. [9] Only 1 in 20 people who didn't have treatment got rid of the wax build-up.

Wax softeners can sometimes irritate the skin in your ear. Other side effects include increased temporary hearing loss, and dizziness if the drops were too cold. [18] Some studies have reported a few people getting pain, stinging, and outer ear infections with certain types of ear drops. [19]

Citations

For references related to Ear wax click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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