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How should I remove the ear wax from my child’s ear?
Q: My 20-month-old has moist ear wax in his right ear. How do I remove it? Do I take him to an ENT specialist or use cotton-tipped swabs to remove it at home?
Alpa Doraville
A: Alpa, ear wax is actually good—it’s one of the body’s natural protections against infections of the ear canal. Some children produce only small amounts of ear wax, while other children produce larger amounts of it.

Ear wax can become a problem if you stick a cotton swab deep inside your baby’s ear canal and pack the ear wax in deeper, scrape the ear canal, or puncture the ear drum which can lead to an ear infection or hearing problem. So don’t stick cotton swabs inside your baby’s ear canal. You can use a cotton swab to clean the ear wax only when it comes out of the ear canal into the outer part of the ear.

Ask your pediatrician to look in your baby’s ears to tell you if you need to do anything else about his ear wax. If your son has hard ear wax packed deep in the ear canal, the pediatrician can clear it out for you; or you can get non-prescription ear drops, called Eurax, at the pharmacy—put these drops in your baby’s ears before bed to loosen up the ear wax and help it drip out of his ears at night. You might only need to do this once or twice.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician