Earwax is slightly acidic and has antibacterial properties. Without earwax, the skin inside your ear would become dry, cracked, infected or waterlogged and sore.
Earwax can be wet or dry and hard or soft. Soft earwax is more common in children and hard earwax is more likely to cause problems. Dry earwax is golden and flaky and more common in people of Asian origin.
Earwax problemsEarwax doesn't usually cause problems. However, producing too much earwax can lead to a blocked and painful ear or hearing loss.
Having repeated ear infections, flaky skin near your ear, or hair in your ear canals can also put you at risk of developing problems with your earwax.
Every year in the UK, over two million people have problems with earwax and need it removed.
To reduce your risk of developing problems with your ears, avoid putting objects in your ears, such as cotton buds, matchsticks and hairpins.
As well as risking damage to your ear canal or eardrum, sticking things in your ears can result in earwax becoming lodged in your ear canal.
When to see your GPVisit your GP if you are having problems with earwax. If you have a large amount of earwax, it may need to be removed.
Earwax can usually be removed using eardrops. If eardrops don't work, another treatment called ear irrigation may be recommended. It involves using a pressurised flow of water to remove the build-up of earwax.
Do not attempt to remove earwax yourself, without first speaking to your GP.