Earwax Problem in Infants, Prevention - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Earwax Problem in Infants

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 15 Sep 2014 - 15:29.

Earwax also called cerumen is most important in keeping the ear clean and healthy. The ceruminous glands which secrete ear wax is a way of trapping dirt, dust and other particles that may enter the ear and damage the eardrum.

In the normal process wax builds up, then dries out and moves to the outer ear to be expelled out. In the process the wax so built up traps foreign debris and expels it.

However, sometimes the earwax accumulates faster than the body can expel it and that is when the buildup of earwax can become a problem. The build-up of earwax in a child plugs the sounds from outside and the hearing becomes muffled. Fluids trapped in the middle ear or an infection in the ear can also lead to loss of hearing.

Differentiating earwax from infection:

It is not easy to pinpoint the difference between earwax and ear infection as a cause for the problems in the ear of a child.  The child has a tendency to rub or tug at his ears or dig in the ears with his fingers as if he had an ear infection and in reality he may be having simple build up earwax. The indicator of an infection present is fever and disturbed sleep in a child which may not present if it is a mere accumulation of earwax. There may be some yellow or brownish drainage in cases of earwax buildup where as in ear infections the drainage may be clear, milky like pus or even bloody. If there is difficulty in differentiating one from the other, you should consult a doctor who will examine the child’s ear with a pediatric ear speculum with light to distinguish earwax from ear infection.


The easiest way to prevent earwax build up is to avoid sticking anything into the baby’s ear canal, in an attempt to dislodging earwax. Babies have very thin eardrums and are liable to rupture if you indulge in such methods of cleaning the ear. If earwax is visible outside you can try removing it either with a soft ear bud or a wet washcloth.

Treatment option:

You can try putting hydrogen peroxide drops into the ears after his head is tilted to the other side and making sure the ear drops stay in the ear for at least 5 minutes keeping the head tilted and then turn him around to make the dissolved wax drip out to the exterior. The best time to do this is when the child is asleep. You may have to continue the procedure for few days till all the wax has come out.

When you are not able to keep the child still for about 5 minutes for the drops to do their job, you need to give this job to an experienced pediatrician who can easily remove the wax, if necessary with a tiny ear scoop, without damaging the eardrum.

Whenever there is something in the ear the ceruminous glands are stimulated which in turn increase the production of earwax. It is therefore essential for the mothers to keep ear buds and other objects including the child’s fingers out of reach from his ears as much as possible. Earwax gets thick and dense if the child has dehydration. This warrants feeding the child frequently with milk or water to keep hydration at the normal levels.

Once the differentiation is made between an ear infection and earwax build up in a child, treatment not only differs but also becomes easy and effective. It is here where a watchful and intelligent mother comes into picture not only in preventing such occurrences but also identify the cause making it easy for onward care of her child.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.