Cerumen: what it is, what are the signs of accumulation, and the main methods of cleaning it up

Cerumen: what it is, what are the signs of accumulation, and the main methods of cleaning it up

Cerumen is a mixture of substances produced by ceruminous glands in the ear canal to defend it from external agents, such as dust, lint and dirt, dead skin consisting mainly of keratin and oily secretions produced by sebaceous glands.

How it is formed

Nature has provided for the ears at least in the innermost part of the ear canal a process of self-cleansing: the most superficial epidermal layers of the ear gradually flake off as they migrate outward. During this process, the cells drag with them the secretions of the ceruminous glands, which, in turn, thanks to their viscous and sticky consistency, facilitate the escape of other organic particles to be eliminated, foreign substances such as dust or hair but also liquids that have accidentally entered the ear canal, as well as any potentially pathogenic bacteria and fungi. During this path, they mix with particular fats produced in the glands and thus leave the ear in the form of earwax.


Earwax plays a vital role in the ear:

  • Has a protective function in that it hinders the entry of foreign material into the external ear canal
  • has a lubricating function for the skin of the ear canal
  • keeps the ear canal slightly moist, preventing dryness and itching
  • has an antimicrobial and antibacterial action.


When this self-cleaning system of the ear no longer functions perfectly, an earwax plug can form, which, if not removed, can cause various disorders, including:

  • irritation and even closure of the ear canal
  • hypoacusis (hearing loss)
  • sensation of closed ears
  • itching
  • ringing, buzzing
  • momentary changes in balance
  • increased risk of infection

Signs earwax accumulation

Symptoms that may suggest the presence of an earwax plug include:

  • perception of a full “plugged” ear
  • hypoacusis (hearing loss)
  • itching
  • discomfort


It is always a good idea to consult your doctor or a specialist to identify the source of the disorder. Once the presence has been ascertained, one can encourage the elimination of the earwax plug through the application of Emollient Ear Drops to soften and dissolve the plug based on oily and emollient substances. To discourage plug formation as a preventive measure, Hydrosaline Sprays enriched with sanitizing herbal substances can be used to be sprayed directly into the ear canal. Ear hygiene cones also help to prevent earwax plug formation and facilitate its removal, while also helping to balance ear pressure, for example, after mountain stays, air travel, or scuba diving.

Incorrect ear hygiene

Earwax is a substance that protects the ear. Both lack of cleaning and excessive cleaning can increase the risk of discomfort and promote earwax accumulation. For example, excessive mechanical cleaning can create abrasions within the ear canal. Cleaning with cotton buds can be not only dangerous, but counterproductive because earwax is often only pushed deeper into the ear canal, permanently occluding it and risking injury to the very sensitive eardrum membrane.

If you would like to discover the entire OTOSAN ear hygiene line, you can visit this section: Ear product line

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