As far as body parts go, your ears are pretty low-maintenance. You don't even have to clean them out—though you probably do anyway.
And that's a bad idea. Especially if you're using cotton-tipped swabs to swipe at your inner ear, you're asking for trouble, says Brett Comer, MD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat medicine) at the University of Kentucky.
"You can open up small cuts or lacerations in your ear canal [using swabs]," Comer explains. You could also perforate your eardrum, or force wax deeper into the ear where it can plug and cause hearing trouble or pain. (Follow these 4 steps to remove excess earwax safely.)
While it's fine to clean at the outer rim of your ear canal if you have wax accumulating there, you don't want to dig inside. "Remember that the wax is there for a reason," Comer says. "It has antibacterial properties to protect your ear from infection."
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