Why Does My Baby Always Have Ear Wax Buildup? Expert Guide For Parents!

Last updated January 13th, 2021

As a new parent and total baby noob, you may have plenty of surprising experiences together with your baby. One of them is ear wax! It has been estimated that every year 39% of pediatric cases come with ear wax buildup. 

Although ear wax buildup isn’t an unusual condition, some genetic predisposition may cause excess buildup in the ear. It happens to anyone, but sometimes it is irritating and provides an unhygienic look, but it’s not a sign of a dirty ear; it shows how good your baby’s ear self-cleaning is.

What causes an excess wax buildup in babies? Ear wax is produced by small pilosebaceous glands and ceruminous glands present in the ear canal. It acts as a filter to clean the ear from foreign particles.

Excessive ear wax buildup in children and when it’s time to see a pediatrician

What is the purpose of ear wax?
  • Ear wax contains special enzymes, chemicals, and aromatic hydrocarbons that help prevent bacteria and fungus from growing inside ears.
  • Repel water from the ear.
  • Prevent the canal from getting dry due to dead skin cell debris and keratin flakes.
  • Keep the skin moist and prevent bacterial infections.
  • Trap dust particles from reaching the eardrum.

You shouldn’t be concerned about the ear goop creeping out of crevasses. This body’s miraculous natural process protects and cleans the ear from dirt particles, infections, bacteria, or dead cell debris. The wax builds up in the ear canal and then moves towards the outer ear, where it comes out on its own.

Rarely, more wax is produced than the wax is expelled, and excessive buildup might interfere with hearing problems.

Is a lot of ear wax a sign of an ear infection?

Is a lot of ear wax a sign of an ear infection?

Nevertheless, parents are worried about yellow or brownish substance coming out of tiny ear holes. The problem only arises when ear wax is covering the ear, and you can clearly see it.

Contact your pediatrician, who will use special tools to safely remove the wax, like flushing warm water with syringes.

You could damage your baby’s ear!

If you cannot resist deep cleaning your baby’s ear, you could do the opposite of what you are trying to do. In most cases, getting the ear wax out with cotton swabs or Qtips could further push down and plug the eardrum,

Causing a medical condition called cerumen impaction and your baby will suffer from pain, ear pressure, and even hearing loss. Statistic evidence has shown that 1 in 8 babies suffer from cerumen impaction.

Otitis media is also caused when a scratch or pierce the eardrum. Bacterial infection grows and infects the ear causing mild hearing impairment, ear pain, tinnitus, itching, and dizziness.

Signs of an ear infection

How do you know if your baby has an ear infection or just ear wax buildup?

Babies are more susceptible to ear infections than adults. An ear infection occurs when fluid is buildup behind the eardrum, most likely because of bacterial infection. It can cause fever, discharge of fluid from the ear, ear pain, poor appetite, unexplained crying, and fussiness.

Look into the ear if the ear wax has changed color red tinge, yellow or green discharge from ear indicates an ear infection.

Refer to your pediatrician ASAP! Prompt removal of ear wax and required treatment for infection is essential to avoid further spread.

Advice on how to manage ear wax buildup

Pediatricians always advise not to put anything inside the baby’s ear as it could damage the eardrum and cause partial or permanent hearing loss. Clean the opening if it’s evident. You can, however, wipe the junk from the edge of ear crevasses. For this, either use a Qtip or use a warm washcloth to scrub it off.

Be careful not to poke inside the ear with Qtip; you could be unknowingly pushing the wax down towards the eardrum, causing the wax to clump inside and plugging it. There’s also a fair chance that you can poke the baby’s fragile eardrum.

It has been seen that people use pinky fingernails and bobby pins to remove the wax, which is highly dangerous and could damage or rupture the eardrum causing infections.

It is said that the safest way to clean wax from the baby’s ear is not to clean it at all. Just wipe the visible residue with a wet washcloth during bathing. Be gentle not to rub too hard, or you may damage the tiny ear bones. You could also use ear drops to soften the wax and fall out in a thick liquid form.

Get rid of hard ear wax out of children ear

Ear wax buildup is remediable and easily managed. Use mineral oils, baby oil, almond oil, and olive oil to help soften the wax inside the ear; 2/3 drops twice a day for 3 weeks will be enough to help clear the ear.

NEVER EVER put anything inside your ear in front of your children; kids mimic what parents do! They could pierce their eardrum with any toy or sharp object.

FAQs

Why can’t you remove earwax with a cotton swab?

Removing the ear’s protective wax layer, scratching the skin in the ear canal, and pushing the wax deeper can increase infection risk. This could also disturb the body’s natural physiological process causing excess wax to build up.

Can you damage the ear if you use a cotton swab too often or incorrectly?

YES! you’ll damage and plug the ear drum by poking cotton swab inside the ear. This could impair the hearing partially or completely and your baby will have a speech delay. Moreover, the body’s equilibrium will be disturbed and the inner ear going to be at risk of bacterial infection.

When does ear wax become serious?

Your baby is unable to tell what he is feeling but you can notice certain symptoms which will indicate the cause. Check If your baby is fussy and irritated all the time, doesn’t properly respond to sounds, cry without any reason and pulls the ear or shakes the pinnacle repeatedly. Note the colour of the ear wax and whether it has covered the whole ear, this will cause pain, increase pressure in ear, tinnitus, itchiness and dizziness. The color of wax might also change to green or yellow with an unpleasant odour.

Consult your pediatrician . He will remove the excessive buildup with a curette, spoon or hook and clean the ear by flushing water in ear with syringe.

How can earwax buildup be treated?

Ear wax is self-cleaning! It falls out on its own. A treat meant is only required when your baby is experiencing pain, infection, or the ear canal is completely blocked. You can always try home remedies to help soften the ear wax, this could be done by;

  • Adding 2/3 drops of mineral oil, baby oil, or olive oil.
  • Using 1/1 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water mixture in the ear, tilt the head in the opposite direction, let it sit for a while, and then tilt the head in the same direction. The wax will ooze out in the viscous liquid form.
  • Use prescribed ear drops to irrigate the wax.
  • Wash the outer ear canal with water and a warm washcloth.

What care advice should I follow for excessive ear wax buildup?

Ear wax plug is not a serious problem at all. It can be easily treated at home. Your pediatrician will advise you on a home care plan to manage excess build-up. It usually includes over the counter drops, a self-cleaning bulb syringe kit, and regular hygiene tips to clean and irrigate the ear. Home remedies are beneficial to soften the wax.

Remember! not to use over-the-counter drops if your baby is suffering from an ear infection or a poked eardrum.

How can I spot the signs of ear infection in my baby?

If your baby has a high persistent fever, abnormal discharge from the ear, unusual change in the color of ear wax with a foul smell, redness, and soreness in the outer ear, and an abnormal sleep pattern, he could be suffering from an ear infection.

What causes the earwax buildup?

Ear wax build-up is a mixture of dead skin cells, hair follicles, dust, and cerumen, a sticky natural wax substance secreted by apocrine glands present in the ear canal. Studies have shown that genetic factors also induce ear wax’s overproduction and if you disturb the natural protective wax layer by always cleaning it. The glands will secrete more wax to maintain homeostasis.

Conclusion

Babies and children suffer from a harmless common type of condition called Ear wax. Usually, ear wax falls out on its own, but parents’ perseverance and despise ear wax could ruin the ear’s natural protective layer.

Only a small fraction of babies suffer from an excessive wax buildup in the ear. Routine bathing and cleaning the outside edge of the earhole with a washcloth, putting 2/3 olive oil drops or ear drops is enough.

If you suspect any kind of unusual watery yellow or green discharge with blood from ear, consult you doctor immediately.

Pediatricians advise not to dig into your child’s ear with cotton swabs or bobby pins; it could make the condition worse by infecting the ear or poking and damaging the eardrum, resulting in partial or permanent hearing loss. Just keep a watch on ear wax color and certain abnormal changes; ask your doctor if it’s harmful or not.

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