Every time you buy a package of Q-tips, this warning label stares you in the face, daring you to defy it. You could explain it away by saying they're just trying to protect themselves from getting sued if you hurt yourself, but there's a very good reason the label is there.
For the first time in almost 10 years, the American Academy of Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat specialists, for those of us without a medical degree) recently published an updated study with "evidence-based recommendations on diagnosis and treatment of earwax."
Dr. Schwartz, one of the chairs of the group that updated the guidelines, said, "There is an inclination for people to want to clean their ears because they believe earwax is an indication of uncleanliness. This misinformation leads to unsafe ear health habits.”
The wax, with dirt and dust particles trapped inside, makes its way out naturally. This happens either with the motion of your jaw (like chewing) or when growing skin pushes it out. Once the wax gets to the opening of your ear, it either flakes off or is washed off when you bathe.
By impacting the earwax in your ear, you can cause a number of other symptoms, ranging from minor irritations, like itching, a feeling of fullness or ringing in your ear, to bigger problems like hearing loss.
Q-tips aren't the only object people use to remove wax. They also use paper clips or ear candles. However, as Dr. Schwartz says, "Anything that fits in the ear could cause serious harm to the ear drum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage.”