Can You Use Sweet Oil To Remove Ear Wax?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not sweet oil works to remove ear wax and if it is safe.

Question

Is sweet oil effective in removing hardened ear wax?

Asked by Crutch On Apr 10, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Apr 11, 2018

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)
  • Irrigation
  • 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.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Hayden Gharibyar

Dr. Hayden Gharibyar is a Doctor of Pharmacy graduate from the University of Colorado. His areas of expertise include pharmacovigilance and drug safety.

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