cotton-tipped swabs

Ear, nose and throat specialists like to caution us never to stick anything smaller than our elbows in our ears. It seems too many of us don’t pay close enough attention, however, especially when it comes to cotton-tipped swabs.

What Are the Hazards of Cotton-Tipped Swabs?

A new report in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery confirms the traditional warning (Carniol et al, JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, online Dec. 21, 2017). Researchers reviewed medical records of ear injuries reported to emergency departments between 2010 and 2014. They were specifically searching for cases of eardrum perforations.

In more than half of the cases they found, the eardrum injury was caused by sticking something into the ear. Roughly 45 percent of these cases were due to cotton-tipped swabs.

How Should You Clean Your Ears?

The authors emphasize that such applicators should never be used to clean the ears. Instead, they recommend using a damp washcloth after a bath or shower. Earwax is water soluble and concentrated in the outer third of the ear, and washcloths are not involved in eardrum injuries.

Previous Warnings:

This is not the first time investigators have reported that cotton-tipped swabs can injure the ears. Researchers focusing specifically on children’s ear injuries implicated these applicators in 2017 (Ameen et al, Journal of Pediatrics, July 2017).

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Total
USD
Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.