Our ear canals have specialised cells that produce cerumen, commonly known as ear wax. Ear wax is our natural ear cleaner; it also lubricates our ears and has an antibacterial function. The skin on our bodies is replaced and continuously regenerated. For most of our bodies, the old skin comes off on our clothes or when we dry ourselves with a towel.
We can not reach the skin in our ear canals, so it is the job or the ear wax to escort the old skin cells out of our ear canals and away. The skin in your ear canal naturally grows in an outward, spiral pattern. Your natural jaw movement, like talking and chewing, keep the process moving. Dead skin cells stick to the wax, and they migrate slowly and continuously from deep in our ear canal – near the eardrum – to the entrance of the ear. For most people, ear wax clears by itself with a regular face and hair washing.
Some people have ear wax accumulation over time. They may have a narrow or bendy ear canal, or their natural wax extraction system may not be working so well. Using cotton buds can disrupt the natural ear wax migration and even push the wax further down your ear canal. Also sometimes using hearing aids or earplugs may stop the wax migrating out of your ear canal and this can cause wax build-up.