The mildly sticky substance that lines up the canal of your ear is not dirt, but it is called ear wax or cerumen. It is a mixture of the secretions produced by the inner lining of your ear canal, the dead skin cells of your ear and the fine hair that lines up the canal. The production of ear wax is as common for toddlers as it is for adults. It is produced every day naturally and can be felt by inserting your fingers slightly inside the ears.
Parents tend to remove earwax in their toddlers, in their attempt to keep them clean. But earwax is not an unwanted material. Surprised? Read further as Doctors Magazine Nigeria brings you more details about ear wax In toddlers.
What Is Earwax and How Is It Formed?
Contrary to its name, earwax is not a wax but a mixture of secretions, hair follicles, and dead skin. The secretions are formed in two sets of glands, sebaceous and apocrine sweat glands that are present in the skin of the outer ear canal. Sebum, produced by the sebaceous glands, is composed of fatty acids. Sebum mixes with the secretion from apocrine sweat glands forming cerumen.
Earwax also contains dust and dirt accumulated from the outside.
Why Earwax Need Not Be Removed:
Parents usually remove cerumen from toddler’s ears forcefully even when the kid complains of pain inside. This is why you should not forcefully bring it out:
- Cerumen comes out on its own, as ear canals follow a self-cleaning mechanism, wherein the material is pushed gradually from the ear drum to the opening of the ear.
- Attempts to remove with cotton swabs, pins or other devices could result in the wax going inside, blocking the ear canal.
- The devices would damage the ear, and result in impaction of the earwax, or even temporary deafness.
Why Earwax Is Important For Your Toddler:
Earwax naturally lubricates the ear and acts as a cleaning agent that removes the dirt and dust particles collected in the ear canal and keeps the part clean. When the wax dries up it is naturally removed from the canal with the movement of your toddler’s jaws, which push away the wax out of your ears, removing dirt and germs along with it.
Parents often fail to understand that the fluid produced is healthy for the ears of your kids and can protect their ear drums from the regular exposure to dust, dirt and other particles from the environment, as they play around freely in the playgrounds or open spaces. Here are a few ways in which earwax is useful for us:
- It resists the formation of bacteria and fungi in the ear by creating an acidic environment inside.
- Lubrication of the skin prevents dryness inside the ear canal, and thus avoids itching and cracking of the skin.
- Cerumen and the hair follicles in it stop insects from entering the ear canal of your toddler.
- The ear canal remains free of dead skin and hair cells as the wax carries them out of the organ.
When Earwax Needs To Be Removed:
Earwax does not always come out on its own. Sometimes it could remain in the ear and create uneasiness for your toddler. This could be due to cerumen impaction. Look for the following signs and indications in your toddler:
- Noises in the ear
- Poor hearing
- Excessive fluid secretions
- Pus in the ear
How To Remove Ear Wax In Toddlers:
In case there is an excessive build-up of earwax in your toddler, but there is no sign of pus formation, you can use the following techniques to remove it:
- Put a few drops of wax softening drops in the ears of your kid. They are readily available over the counter and do not need a prescription.
- Use a bulb type syringe and lukewarm water to flush out the fluids from the insides of the ears of your toddler.
- You can also use mineral oil to soften the wax and then let your toddler wash off the loosened wax under the shower. Finally, dry the ears from inside using the hair dryer that is set at low temperature.
What Not To Do To Remove Ear Wax From Your Toddler’s Ears:
Under normal circumstances, it is not required for you to clean your toddler’s ears regularly as self-cleaning mechanism might get disrupted due to outside interference. Avoid the below-mentioned methods to remove the wax from the gentle ears of your toddlers:
- Never use the cotton buds as they remove just the outer layers of the wax but push the inner wax further inside the canal, leading to blockage and pain in the ears.
- Objects such as hairpins and sharp metal items should never be used to remove the wax from the ears of your toddlers as they not only injure the ear canal but also cause infection and in particular cases, permanently damage the eardrums of your child.
- You should also avoid using ear candles as there is no guarantee of the removal of wax but they injure the ears severely.
- Never put dental irrigation devices or similar equipment to clean the ears of your toddlers as the force of the water can rupture the ear drum and cause injury.
Earwax Build Up Is Caused By An Infection:
If an excessive build up of earwax is accompanied by fever and sleeplessness, severe pain and itching in the ear, it is a clear indication of an infection in your toddler. Rush him to an ENT specialist immediately if he complains of pain and ache in the ear.
If there is an excessive secretion of the wax in the ears, you can see it in the outer section of the Pus formation or fluid in bloody-yellowish in colour also, could indicate a condition.
Do not worry too much about the accumulation of ear wax until it causes pain and discomfort. In case the symptoms of ear ache and excessive secretion occurs, do not think of taking matters into your hands but consult your family physician or an ENT specialist.