Certain oils are effective in removing hardened ear wax but sweet oil should not be used due to safety concerns.
Home Ear Wax Treatments
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) published guidelines in 2017 for how to manage and treat hardened ear wax, what they call “impacted” ear wax.
They recommend three options for removing ear wax:
- Cerumenolytic agents (ear wax softening agents)
- Manual removal
Cerumenolytic agents are safe to use in patients who do not have a history of ear infections, ear perforations, or ear surgery. These agents should only be used if you are experiencing symptoms from the hardened ear wax like hearing loss, earache, ear fullness, or itchiness.
Sweet oil would be considered a cerumenolytic agent and usually consists of olive oil or almond oil. Because these oils come from food products, there is a chance they can cause fungal infections and are therefore unsafe to use in the ear.
Mineral oil is an alternative to sweet oil that can be found in most pharmacies that is a good cerumenolytic agent but does not carry the risk of causing fungal infection. As such, mineral oil isa safe and effective alternative recommended by the AAO-HNSF guidelines for ear wax removal.
Another popular over the counter product for earwax is known as carbamide peroxide and is available in product such as Debrox.
It is recommended to follow up with your doctor after home ear wax removal to ensure there are no underlying issues or damage to your ear. While sweet oil might be effective in removing hardened ear wax, it should not be used due to its carried risk of causing fungal infection.
It is important to follow-up with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or get worse after removing ear wax.