Ear Care for Men: Avoid Embarrassing Earwax Buildup

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Boys and men are many things, but they’re unfortunately not known for observing good self-care habits. It may just be a stereotype, but you can’t deny that the male population tends to brush off wellness. For many boys and men, a shower is the most self-care there is. And some can even skip it for weeks!

Skipping showers frequently won’t just affect your odour but may also harm your hearing. Dirt and bacteria may build up outside your ear, contributing to the formation of ear wax inside. While having ear wax isn’t usually dangerous, it can block your hearing if it becomes impacted. And that’s something you can’t fix yourself.

Do Men Have More Earwax Than Women?

Fortunately, the production of earwax between men and women doesn’t have much of a difference. Instead of gender, it’s actually your race that may determine not how much earwax you’d likely produce but what your earwax will look like. If you’re of Asian descent, chances are you have dry, odourless earwax. If you’re a Caucasian, you likely have wet earwax with a slight odour.

The possibility of the latter can be very revolting, but don’t worry; having wet and odorous ear wax won’t automatically make you smell. But you have to ensure that the wax doesn’t build up, or else someone hugging you might get a hint that you need to visit the audiologist.

On a more serious note, though, the state of your earwax can indicate a health condition. A wet ear wax with a distinct scent may be a sign of a rare genetic disorder called maple syrup urine disorder. Certain earwax colours may also suggest ear infections.

What Your Earwax Says About You

The colour of your earwax can say something about your hygiene and health. Normal colours are off-white to yellow, yellow to orange, darker orange, brownish orange, or pale orange. But each of those colours suggests different things.

  • Off white to yellow or yellow to orange: fresh earwax
  • Darker orange: older earwax with debris, likely sticky or flaky
  • Brownish orange: very old earwax, usually thick and sticky
  • Pale orange: dry, old earwax

Obviously, your ears need cleaning if your earwax has gone dark-orange to pale orange. But if your earwax isn’t any of those colours, but rather any of the ones below, seek an audiologist ASAP:

man holding his ear

  • Yellow to green: not earwax, but runny pus from an ear infection
  • Green: ear infection, might be odorous
  • Normal-looking wax with streaks of blood: an injury in the ear canal or ruptured eardrum, if the wax is runny
  • Gray: dust build-up inside the ear
  • Black: impacted earwax

An ear infection may lead to serious complications if left untreated. So if your ears have been in pain, or you experience liquid drainage, fever, coughing, persistent hearing loss, odour from your ears, and dizziness, visit an audiologist immediately.

Ear Care Tips for Men

Using Q-tips isn’t actually the right way to clean your ears. Because instead of removing the wax, the cotton shoves them deeper into your ear canal. Over time, the amount of wax that’s been pushed back inside your ear may build up and result in a blockage, a.k.a. impacted earwax.

If you don’t have impacted earwax, using an ear pick is fine, as long as you don’t push it too deep into your ear. Just focus it on your outer ear canal to avoid risking an eardrum injury.

Be mindful of your headphone or earbud usage as well. Those devices block the airflow from your ear canal, making them susceptible to moisture. And moisture in a dark place, such as the ear canal, is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

Though headphones and earbuds don’t lead to an increased earwax production, the way they block your ears can contribute to the build-up of wax. The tighter the seal of the bud, the less the ear canal aerates, supporting wax accumulation.

If your earwax has already blocked your ears, you can no longer remove that yourself. Impacted earwax can go so deep, and some are very dry and hard, causing pain when moved. So if your ears have reached that state, go to the audiologist for an ear-cleaning session.

An ear microsuction procedure may be performed on you if you have perforated eardrums since the microsuction device doesn’t squirt out water and barely grazes the skin in your ear canal. But if you have dry and hard earwax, the audiologist may drop an earwax softener into your ears first to make extraction easier. If your eardrums are healthy, you may consider an irrigation procedure, which flushes out the earwax by sending a stream of water into your ear.

And remember, poor hygiene makes you less attractive, so take a shower regularly to avoid dust and debris from accessing your ears. Clean your headphones or earbuds before using them as well. The ears may seem unimportant in your physical appearance, but they matter more than you think.

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