What Actually Happens When You Use A Cotton Bud


Susan Barrett |

Admit it, you’ve stuck a cotton bud in your ear – it’s why we call them ‘ear buds’! But read this and you will never, ever do it again…

Yeah, yeah – we’ve all heard the vague concerns about messing with your ears and the wax that is actually there for a reason… But those ear buds are just so damn addictive, right?

Much as you might not want to hear this again: ear wax serves a seriously protective purpose, helping to keep dust and dirt away from your eardrum and creating a basic antibacterial, lubricating environment for this essential body part. Because: We. All. Need. To. Hear.

Nature has also provided a self-cleaning mechanism for ears. The hairs lining your ear canal act like little brushes, moving wax and grime out to the entrance where it can be safely wiped away without prodding and probing. (Another example of us tweaking nature: How The Pill Changes Your Health.)

Still not convinced wax needs to stay put? Because no one died from using ear buds – and it’s so satisfying…

We did some scratching to find out what actually happens when you use ear buds – and the evidence against them is pretty overwhelming, even for the most hardened of diggers among us.

So, what actually happens when you use ear buds?

First off, while you think you’re clearing your ears of wax, you’re actually pushing it further into your ear, where it gets stuck in the parts that don’t clean themselves. And that spells trouble in the form of fungus (grrrr), bacteria and viruses, which could lead to pain, infection and hearing loss… Get all the gory details at .

Then, the biggie: your eardrum. This little dude is so delicate that even the gentlest swish of an ear bud can result in a rupture of mega-painful proportions. Never happened to you? Well, are you prepared to keep trying?

Remember this scene from Girls

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Then how do you clean your ears?

You can get wax-removing eardrops at the pharmacy and these can clear build-up in a couple of days. If the wax blocks completely, use the drops before heading to your GP for an ear syringing as the wax will then be softer and easier to remove.

Get your body into the best shape it can be with this in Yikes! 6 Everyday Things That Could Hamper Your Health

Watch ON: Ear Wax Health Health Advice