According to Melinda Beck at Health Journal:

Some 12 million Americans visit medical professionals annually for earwax removal. Millions more have it done at spas and ear-candling parlors, which theoretically suck out earwax with a lighted candle. North Americans also spent $63 million last year on home ear-cleaning products, from drops to irrigation kits, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.


Parents know that pediatricians are highly trained in the art of cerumen removal.  We spend a lot of time removing wax from the ears of children of all ages and sizes.  Some kids lie motionless, making the job rather simple.  Most, however, absolutely freak out!  Our medical assistants and nurses are invaluable in their ability to firmly but comfortably keep screaming kids still enough for us to clear their ear canals.  But unless it is absolutely necessary to see the ear drums, we prefer to leave the wax alone:

Doctors strongly discourage using cotton swabs or ear candling to remove earwax and say that unless it’s causing bothersome symptoms, earwax should be left alone.


Cotton swabs especially tend to be problematic for two reasons. First, while a little wax will be seen on the tip of the swab after cleaning, more unseen wax is actually pushed further into the canal, potentially leading to an impaction of wax.  Second, older children and teens tend to use cotton swabs more aggressively than their parents and can cause considerable trauma to their ears.  A frequent cause of ear pain at this age is simply from frequent or vigorous swabbing, which, by friction, produces inflammation of the ear canal.  Usually no treatment is needed for that, but the pain results in a lot of visits to the doctor.

Beck explains why it’s better to just leave the wax alone:

Officially known as cerumen, earwax is part of the ear’s own cleaning system, designed to stop incoming dust, dirt, bacteria—even bugs—in the ear canal and ferry them out again. The wax and trapped debris are propelled along by the movements of the jaw, at about the same speed that fingernails grow. When it reaches the ear opening, the wax usually dries, flakes and falls out, often without the human host noticing.


Of course, young children tend to get a lot of colds and, consequently, ear infections.  Pediatricians need to see the ear drum to know what is going on.  For the teenager who has impacted earwax and simply cannot hear well because of it, removing it is viewed as a heroic act performed by their pediatrician!

For more about earwax, read article or view video here.