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The difference between wet and dry ear wax?

3 Min read

23rd Feb 2023

What is the difference between wet and dry ear wax?

Earwax, also known as Cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the ceruminous glands in our ear canal. It plays an important role in protecting the ear from dust, bacteria, and other foreign particles – but not all earwax is created equal. There are two types of earwax: wet and dry.

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between wet and dry earwax and what causes earwax.

Wet Ear wax

Wet earwax is the most common type of earwax and is produced in larger amounts. It is soft, sticky, and yellow or brown in colour. Wet earwax acts as a lubricant and is important in trapping foreign particles and dust, preventing them from reaching the eardrum. This type of earwax is usually removed naturally as we move our jaw and when we talk, chew or yawn.

Dry Ear wax

Dry earwax, on the other hand, is less common and is produced in smaller amounts. It is flaky and brittle and can be yellow, grey, or brown in colour. Dry earwax is not as effective as wet earwax in trapping foreign particles and is more likely to cause blockages in the ear canal.

What Causes Ear wax?

The production of earwax is a natural process that is controlled by the ceruminous glands in our ear canal. The exact cause of earwax production is not known, but it is believed to be related to the pH level and moisture in our ear canal.

Some people produce more earwax than others, and this can be due to genetics or lifestyle factors such as the use of hearing aids, earplugs, or other objects that can block the ear canal.

What are the symptoms of earwax blockage?

When earwax accumulates in the ear canal and becomes impacted, this could cause a blockage. Some common symptoms of this include:

  • Earache: The pressure from the buildup of earwax can cause pain or discomfort in the ear.
  • Hearing loss: Earwax blockage can reduce the amount of sound that reaches the eardrum, leading to temporary hearing loss.
  • Tinnitus: A ringing or buzzing sound in the ear can be a symptom of earwax blockage.
  • Itching: The presence of earwax can cause itching in the ear canal.
  • Dizziness: A blockage of earwax can disrupt the balance mechanism in the inner ear and cause dizziness.
  • Fullness in the ear: A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear is a common symptom of earwax blockage.
  • Discharge: In some cases, earwax blockage can lead to discharge from the ear.

Suffering with blocked ears?

We can remove your earwax in one 30 minute appointment.

At both our hearing centres in Worcester and Stratford-upon-Avon, we provide a range of ear cleaning services to best suit your condition. These include: micro-suction, endoscopic and irrigation earwax removal.

woman having ear wax removed

What to expect at your appointment

  1. You’ll be greeted by our friendly reception staff who will assist you with the registration process.
  2. Our clinical audiologist will then assess your wax build up and decide the most appropriate method of removal.
  3. Removal of ear wax via the appropriate method (microsuction, instrumentation, irrigation or endoscopy).
  4. Application of cetrimide antiseptic cream (to ensure the ear stays calm and no dry skin irritation occurs).
  5. A post procedure assessment to ensure all wax is cleared and a healthy ear is observed. 

Attempting to clear earwax from home could lead to further problems; leave it to our registered clinical specialists. Request your earwax removal appointment today 

Request an Appointment
Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon Director of Audiology

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