(WKBW/ABC News) Putting a cotton swab--or anything else--into your ears--is not only unhealthy--but dangerous.
Most people start probing--hoping to remove wax that's built up in the ear canal. Ear wax, however, is typically soft and should fall out on its own.
So, sticking anything into our ears can push that wax in further and
compact it--and that could result in a trip to the doctor's office.
Wax blockage, surprisingly, is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and then there's the chance all that poking around could damage or rupture the ear drum.
Ear wax exists for a reason. It shields the ear by trapping dust, bacteria and other foreign particles from entering. It also protects the delicate skin of the ear canal from becoming irritated when water is in the canal--especially important as families head to pools, lakes and beaches.
So, take the phrase "clean behind your ears" literally. Wash the outsides of your ears carefully with a soft washcloth moistened with soap and water, and then simply pat them dry.