Specialists in Earwax Removal

Which drops are best for ear wax?

With so many choices on the market, all claiming to help unblock your ears, this article help you understand the key differences, the possible  side effects and which drops are best for ear wax.

Which are the best drops for ear wax?
Which are the best drops for ear wax?

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Earwax buildup can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue for many people. Fortunately, there are several types of ear drops available that can help soften and remove excess earwax. In this article, we will review the benefits and differences of four popular ear drops: Olive Oil, Hydrogen Peroxide (such as Otex Express), Sodium Bicarbonate drops, and Sea Water Spray.

**Before you carry on reading it’s really important to note that, ideally, you should see an Audiologist, Ear Care Practitioner, GP or Pharmacist before putting anything in your ears!** 


Olive Oil Drops

Olive Oil is a natural and gentle option for earwax removal. It contains oleic acid, which helps to soften and loosen earwax, making it easier to remove. It’s our ‘go-to’ choice that we ask most patients to apply for a few days before their ear wax removal appointment, 

Heard that the oil makes your hearing worse? Ear wax is a bit like a sponge: when it’s dry it can be very hard. When the oil is applied it softens, which makes it more comfortable to take out, but it also expands like a sponge would – this is why your hearing can seem worse after applying oil. While that can be a little concerning, don’t worry, it’s temporary.

Should I warm it first? That’s up to you. It won’t make it work any better but may be more comfortable. Cold oil won’t hurt you but it’s not the most pleasant feeling! if you do warm the oil be very careful not to overheat it – hot oil in your ear canal will be very painful and could result in permanent damage – Top Tip: check the temperature on your wrist first. 

To apply it, lay horizontal and have someone use a dropper to apply a few drops, twice a day. If you haven’t got a dropper we find those little syringes you get in Calpol bottles work well. None of those? Use a teaspoon but be prepared to cover your clothing! Once applied leave it for a few minutes before getting up.

You can buy some from the Pharmacy that usually always include a dropper. Earol, if you can find it, even has a handy spray for self usage. That said though the stuff in your kitchen will work just as well. Stick to olive oil though (not infused with Chilli – true story!).


Hydrogen Peroxide

Otex Express the most commonly known Hydrogen Peroxide brand, though Earex and other are available too. It is a fast-acting ear drop that contains urea hydrogen peroxide. It is not oil based, but water based and it works by breaking down earwax into smaller pieces, making it easier to remove and can be incredibly effective on very old, hard, stubborn wax.

Be careful not to over use it. It’s basically a low concentrate bleach and will eventually burn your ears if you go over the recommended time frame. If you have particularly sensitive skin then even single use it can cause some irritation. If this happens then stop using it and follow the instructions in the box. It’s important to use it exactly as directed and not to leave it in your ear for too long. 

We usually only recommend a Hydrogen Peroxide treatment if you’ve used Olive Oil for a few days and the wax is still too stubborn to remove without causing discomfort.


Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate drops, are another popular option available at most pharmacies. It’s another water based drop which works by softening and dissolving earwax, making it easier to remove.  People often describe a ‘fizzing’ in their ear. This fizzing creates a very mild pressure which can sometimes help help push the wax further towards the outer ear. In some cases it can cause the wax to dissolve and ‘run’ further into the ear and settle very close to the ear drum. Only use for a few days, extended usage can cause irritation.

While it’s almost all natural ingredients, don’t attempt to make your own from your baking cupboard. The ratio is very specific. Beside’s, it’s probably the cheapest drop you can get from the pharmacy – I found it for just over a pound recently at Oxford Road pharmacy!

Sea Water

Sea water is a natural and gentle option for earwax removal. Don’t just pop down to the Blue Lagoon to get some though! Our beaches are beautiful and clean but I don’t recommend putting the that water into your ear! It’s a sterile solution that is bought in a spray or a drop from some pharmacies containing minerals and trace elements that can help to soothe and moisturise the ear. Sea water is generally safe to use with few side effects though it can be harder to find that the first three we looked at. Expect it to take a little more time to have an affect on your ear wax than other options.

When do you need to call for help?

If you’ve tried drops for 7 days and the wax is still blocking your ear, let it dry out for a week before giving it another week of treatment. When it dries out it will begin to shrink again…this movement can help it come out on it’s own. This will take you to 3 weeks – if you still have blocked ears at this stage then it’s time to call us for medical intervention. Don’t leave it longer than this – wax build up generally causes hearing loss which not only impacts your communication day-to-day, but also can have other short term affects such as tinnitus and vertigo. if left for a long time, it is proven to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in later life. Look after your ears!

Our micro-suction equipment will gently remove the wax from your ears. When we’ve removed it we’ll check the overall health of your ears and run a quick hearing test to give you peace of mind that you’re back to your best.

Need help with your ears?

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If you’d rather have a quick chat about your issues before booking then call us on 01429 233 091. if you want some independent advice on ear wax management then click here for the NHS pages on the subject.