*Has Q-tips shoved in both ears.*
Is using Q-tips orgasmic for you? Like are you literally always poking around in your ears trying to get rid of the indefinite itching that plagues you?
Um, ME TOO.
Well, I'm here to tell you exactly what's making your ears so itchy and how to properly treat it, without making it worse.
Experiencing itchy ears is incredibly common, and it's not particular to just one species — in case you haven't noticed, dogs and cats are literally always scratching their ears, too. So I spoke with Dr. Erich Voigt, clinical associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at NYU Langone Health, and Dr. Ana Kim, director of otologic research at Columbia University Medical Center, to get to the bottom of what the hell causes insatiably itchy ears and to write this post for the common good.
Hopefully there's something in here that helps you, because from experience, I know how torturous itchy ears can be.
Universal Pictures / Via tenor.com
First things first: There's a protective layer of wax in your ear canals that is water-repellant and helps keep your ears clean.
There's a natural waxy substance produced by the glands in our ears called cerumen. It mixes with the oil and moisture in our ear canals to create a protective layer that lines the skin of the ear canal, and actually acts like a barrier against dirt and bacteria, while also keeping the skin from drying out, Voigt says.
The water-repellant and slightly acidic wax also helps to decrease bacterial growth and prevent water from getting trapped in your ear canals. It's different from the ear wax that everyone wants to remove, he explains.
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And regardless of how gentle you are, when you push things inside of your ears, you're most likely scraping at or getting rid of that waxy layer.
"In my experience, the most common cause of itchy ears is Iatrogenic mechanical manipulation, which is when people insert weird things into their ears (i.e. Q-tips, bobby pins, fingers, etc.) and scrape around causing trauma," says Kim. "Your outer ear canals have natural defenses that help keep them clean and prevent infection, and if you interfere with them, you're going to run into problems."
"If people are using Q-tips on a regular basis, they're removing the wax lining from their ear canals, taking away that protective layer," Voigt says. "It's most likely to happen if you're cleaning your ears often and very vigorously. But even if you use them gently, it's a delicate layer and could still be removed."
Columbia Pictures / Via imgur.com