What is sticky, gooey, orange, and hard to reach?… Earwax of course! This elusive substance might seem like a nuisance but it actually serves a very important purpose for kids and adults alike. If you’re wondering “why does my child have so much earwax?” you’re not alone. Many parents see a child with a lot of earwax and worry that something is abnormal. But in fact, the right amount ranges from child to child. So before you go about trying to find the best earwax removal techniques, read the information below to find out what’s normal, what’s not, and when to visit your pediatrician.

What’s Normal?

Kids often have lighter colored, softer earwax than adults. So if you see a different color or consistency than you’re used to, don’t worry! Even if you’re seeing a lot of it. The body generally makes as much as it needs. Earwax moves its way out of the outer ear canal naturally to the opening where you can see it, or where it tumbles out of the ear. So, just because you can see it, doesn’t necessarily mean there’s any problem. It is supposed to make its way out on its own! If you do notice a lot of it, it might mean your child has a narrow ear canal or another normal condition which makes the ear prone to excessive wax. 

What’s Abnormal?

Sometimes hard, impacted wax can become uncomfortable and even potentially problematic. If your child is feeling unusual ear-related symptoms, something might be off. Look out for pain, itching, trouble hearing, tugging on the ears, ringing in the ears, odor, drainage, or a clogged feeling. Many of these symptoms can point to excessive earwax in a child or even something more serious. 

What Not to Do

Cotton tipped swabs anyone? While they look perfectly ear-canal sized, these are a no-go when it comes to protecting your child’s ear health. Sticking anything, even a finger, inside the ear can create a risk for ear damage and infection. It can also make the problem worse by packing in the wax. Some experts even think using this could lead to even more wax buildup! So, don’t attempt earwax removal at home without following advice offered by your pediatrician. Even “safe” over-the-counter methods might not be a good fit for the condition of your child’s ears. Not to mention, improper cleaning poses risk for permanent ear or hearing damage.

What to Do

If you have a child with a lot of earwax, or know that they are prone to excessive buildup, there are several prevention tactics that you can try. The best way to start? Leave the earwax alone and let it come out on its own! Aside from cleaning outside of the ear canal when necessary by wiping a washcloth along the outer ear, your child’s regular bathing routine should be enough to keep earwax comfortable. You can also opt for your little one to use over the ear headphones instead of earbuds to avoid packing wax deeper inside the ear canal. If you have any doubts, always reach out to your pediatrician for advice. They can recommend over-the-counter or in-office procedures that are a good fit for your child’s specific needs.

When to Come in

If your child is experiencing any pain or hearing loss, visit your pediatrician right away. Any signs of discomfort, that something might be stuck in the ear, or changes in hearing call for an expert opinion. If the problem is due to excessive wax buildup, know that the best earwax removal is done by a medical professional. There are a range of options to help your child solve their sticky situation. Wax softeners, ear irrigation, and routine ear cleanings (every 6-12 months) could be good options or your child. Whatever the situation, if you are concerned, always reach out to a pediatrician before you try anything on your own.

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, our passionate team of pediatricians is ready to help you keep your kiddo’s ears clean, healthy, and hearing their best! If you have a child with a lot of earwax, you notice any abnormal symptoms, or you have additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out. To call or make an appointment, visit us at www.coastalkids.com