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Olive oil ear drops

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Olive oil drops can be purchased over the counter to soften and remove built-up earwax. The ear is self-cleaning, and the wax will clear naturally if it is soft enough. It is unnecessary to try to remove the wax yourself. However, occasionally there can be a build-up that can’t be removed. If the wax is noticed on the outer ear, a wipe with a clean washcloth may be all that is needed. Olive oil is a natural formulation that softens and dissolves impacted or hardened earwax, allowing it to run out of the ear naturally. Often it will come with a dropper or as a spray for easier use.

Doctor’s advice

Do I need professional earwax removal?

Ear wax removal is a different method for removing excess ear wax, which requires a professional. It is the quickest and most effective way to fully remove all ear wax, however, you may notice some temporary changes to your ears – especially if the wax has been building up for some time.

It is recommended if you have tried other ear wax removal forms and had minimal results. There are two key types: micro-suction and syringe irrigation. Micro-suction is newer and less invasive, whereas syringing is quicker but can often cause discomfort. Your practitioner may recommend olive oil drops before your ear wax removal appointment to soften the ear wax.

Who is it for?

It is for people with a build-up of wax in their ears. Ear wax build-up is often noticed by reduced hearing or visual inspection. This can just naturally occur due to having more wax in the ears. If you have hairy or narrow ear canals, this can make a build-up of wax more likely. Similarly, hearing aids, earplugs, and other things you put in your ear can push earwax down, causing it to become stuck and cause a blockage and build-up. This is one of the reasons cotton buds should not be used, as they disrupt the ear's normal process of getting wax out of the ear canal.

How do I apply it

You can follow these simple steps to apply your olive oil eardrops:

  1. Tilt your head or lie down so that the affected ear is facing up
  2. Open your ear canal by pulling back the outer part of the ear
  3. Put 2-3 drops of olive oil in the center of the ear canal
  4. Remain tilted for at least 5 minutes
  5. Wipe away any excess from the outer parts of the ear once you tilt your head upright
  6. Repeat in the other ear if needed

This can be performed for up to 14 days if needed.

Should anyone avoid them?

Don’t use olive oil if you have a ruptured eardrum, which can cause distorted hearing and pain inside the ear.

If your main symptom is pain or fever, then you may have an infection and will need your doctor to take a look. Symptoms of jaw pain, ringing in the ear, or feelings of pressure and fullness would be worth a chat with your doctor, too, to help exclude other possible causes.

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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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