Font Size

Earwax (cont.)

Which Specialties of Doctors Treat Earwax Blockage?

Earwax buildup or blockage can be diagnosed and treated by your primary care provider (PCP), such as a family practitioner, an internist, or child's pediatrician. You may also see an emergency medicine specialist in a hospital's emergency department.

In severe cases you may be referred to an otolaryngologist, also called an ear-nose-throat specialist (ENT) for treatment.

How Can Earwax Buildup and Blockage be Prevented?

Earwax blockage can be prevented by avoiding the use of cotton-tipped swabs or Q-tips and other objects that push the earwax deeper into the ear canal.

A study has also suggested that earwax buildup may be prevented by application of a topical emollient.

Individuals with hearing aids should be routinely examined for earwax impaction (cerumen impaction) every 3 to 6 months.

What Is the Outlook for a Person with Chronic Earwax Buildup and Blockage?

Earwax serves an important function in keeping the ears healthy and should not be removed unless the buildup is causing blockage and other symptoms. Once excess earwax blockage is removed, the prognosis is very good and symptoms will disappear. In some patients there can be complications, including:

  • Perforated eardrum
  • Middle-ear infection
  • External-ear infection (swimmer's ear)
  • Permanent hearing loss from acoustic trauma


Chai TJ, Chai TC. Bacteriicidal activity of cerumen. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 1980; 18(4):638-41.

Dinces, E.A., MD. "Cerumen." UpToDate. Updated: Jul 30, 2015.

Ernst E. Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science. J Laryngol. Jan 2004; 118(1):1-2.

Saloranta K, Westermarck T. Prevention of cerumen impaction by treatment of outer ear canal skin. A pilot randomized controlled study. Clin Otolaryngol. Apr 2005; 30(2):112-4.

Stone M, Fulghum RS. Bactericidal activity of wet cerumen. The Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology. Mar 1984; 93:183-6.

WhatleyVN, Dodds CL, Paul RI. Randomized clinical trial of docusate, triethanolamine polypeptide, and irrigation in cerumen removal in children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Dec 2003; 157(12):1181-3.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/22/2016
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Earwax

Earache (Ear Pain)

Earache is pain in the ear. An earache...learn more >>

Foreign Body in Ear
Foreign Body, Ear Getting an object lodged in the ear is a common problem -- especially among toddlers. learn more >>
Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss Hearing loss can have a variety of causes both physical and neurological. Infection can also affect learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Earwax (Excess Buildup and Blockage):

Earwax Buildup and Blockage - Experience

Please share your experience with earwax buildup or blockage.

Earwax Buildup and Blockage - Causes

If known, what was the cause of your excess earwax buildup or blockage?

Earwax Buildup and Blockage - Symptoms

What symptoms have you experienced with earwax buildup or blockage?

Earwax - Treatment and Removal

What treatments have effectively removed your earwax buildup or blockage?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cerumen Impaction Removal »

Removal of cerumen (wax) from the ear is a significant amount of the workload of an otolaryngologist and is, therefore, an essential skill to master.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary