Updated: Oct 28, 2019
With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would take a moment to share the gooiest, grossest and very important details about earwax. If earwax chat is not your thing, you may want to pause right here...
Otherwise, read along, my pretties.
What is earwax?
Simply put – it is a perfect combination of oil, sweat, and dead skin cells. But earwax (called cerumen) actually serves a very important purpose. Protection.
Earwax prevents dirt, bacteria and bugs from entering your ear canal. The stickiness acts like fly paper and protects your ear canal from damage.
Earwax stinks! It really does, but for a good reason. The smell is an insect repellent. Does it always work? No, but that is what the stickiness is for – your very own bug trap!
Is my earwax normal?
Guess what? Everybody produces earwax and - no - they are not all created equal. Let’s discuss. According to Healthy Hearing your type of earwax and color may depend on your diet, your age, where you live/work and your ethnicity. Your earwax will always be sticky, but the type of earwax refers to whether it is a wet or dry stickiness. The color always varies but rest assured, all earwax colors are “normal”.
Caucasians and Africans – generally have wet earwax
Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians – are more common to have dry earwax
Dark brown or black earwax – is more common in older adults, but also may mean that there is older dirt and bacteria trapped in your ear working its way out. If you work outside a lot, this may also explain the color.
Light brown, orange or yellow earwax – healthy!
White earwax – could indicate an infection.
Red color - it may indicate that there's been some trauma and its time to see a doctor.
So next time you see someone with a very healthy helping of earwax in their ears, don’t revolt – rejoice! Their ears are being protected, and so are yours.