Why Is My Earwax Dark
You take great care to keep your body clean — shampooing, showering, washing your face — but how often do you think about keeping your ear canals clean? You don’t really need to worry as much about them as you might think; it’s just as important to keep those canal-cleaning habits in mind as you would for other parts of your body.
Earwax is one of the main things in your ear canals that helps protect against infection. As you probably know, the outer surface of your ear is covered with skin (called the epidermis) and hair (called the dermis). The outer layer of skin also contains oil glands that produce sebum. Sebum is a natural lubricant that keeps moisture from building up inside your ear canals. Without this moisture, bacteria could grow on the surfaces of your ear canals and cause infections.
The earwax serves another purpose. When you use earbuds or headphones, wax builds up around the openings of your ear canals. This wax acts like insulation between the air outside and the air inside your head. If there were no earwax in these areas, then the sound waves would bounce around too quickly to make sense. In addition, when you go swimming or out during cold season, earwax protects the ear canals by sealing off the water from getting into your ears. So if you notice any darkening of your earwax or hear wiggling noises, you should check with your physician.
As we mentioned before, earwax is normally clear. However, sometimes you’ll find bits of dark matter floating around in your ear canals. What causes this build up? Well, the primary culprit is earwax itself. Once you’ve got some earwax stuck in your ear canals, it won’t leave easily. You have two options for removing it. One option is to massage your ear canals gently with a cotton swab. Another option is to get your hands dirty and dig at it with your fingers.
If you’re worried that these methods may lead to more serious problems down the road, relax. There are many ways in which doctors remove excess earwax without doing damage to your ear canals. For example, using suction devices or irrigation systems. These techniques work well enough so that most people never even realize their earwax had been darkened.
On the next page, learn why earwax shouldn’t always be pink.
Your earwax doesn’t have to be a certain color for it to serve its purpose. Sometimes it will change colors based upon environmental factors. For instance, if you live near smoggy cities, your earwax will become darker than what it was before. Likewise, if you spend time outdoors in hot weather, your earwax may turn redder. But if you eat foods high in iron, your earwax may start turning blue.
Sometimes you’ll find pieces of pink earwax floating around in your ear canals. While this type of earwax does look different, it still has the same function as normal earwax. Most likely, you picked up this strange piece of earwax while eating candies and ice cream.
But why did you end up picking up pink earwax instead of regular earwax? Pink earwax comes from cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your bloodstream. Normally, the blood carries cholesterol through your veins to your liver where it gets processed. After being processed in the liver, the cholesterol is sent back to your heart through arteries. At this point, cholesterol becomes the shiny white stuff you see when you cut open a vein.
However, sometimes your body produces too much cholesterol. This excess cholesterol ends up collecting in your small intestine. Since your body cannot absorb all of the cholesterol, it sends it through your bowels to pass out. This process creates pink earwax.
In order to prevent this from happening, your body needs something called bile. Bile is a liquid produced by your liver. It works together with enzymes to digest food particles into smaller pieces. The bigger the particle, the harder it is for your body to break it down. Therefore, large chunks of meat, eggs, and cheese are easier to digest than tiny pieces of broccoli. That’s why your body makes bile specifically to break down fats. Inside your stomach, bile mixes with pancreatic juice from your pancreas. Together, the mixture breaks down the fat molecules.
When you eat lots of fat, such as that found in candy, ice cream, and fried chicken, your body needs extra help breaking down the fat. To solve this problem, your body calls in lipase. Lipase is a protein enzyme that attaches itself to fat molecules and helps break them down further. When you eat lots of candy, your body releases large amounts of lipase. As a result, your digestive system ends up producing larger amounts of bile in order to breakdown the sugar molecules in the candy.
That’s why your mouth turns bright pink after eating candy. However, once your body absorbs the sugars, the amount of lipase decreases. This means less bile production. And because your body no longer requires as much bile, it stops making the pink earwax.
Of course, this explanation only applies to the kind of earwax that looks pink. Regular earwax remains clear because it hasn’t collected any junk along the way.
For more information on earwax and related topics, visit the next page.
While most people will assume that dark earwax points toward poor hygiene, it actually indicates a medical condition. If you ever find yourself scratching at your ears and noticing dark matter moving around within them, you should consult your physician immediately.
People who suffer from chronic illnesses can develop blockages in their ear canals. An obstructed ear canal prevents proper drainage of fluids, leading to a buildup of fluid. Over time, a person’s ear canals can fill with pus. A doctor can drain this fluid by performing surgery, though this procedure is expensive and painful.
Another reason you want to see a doctor is if you experience pain in your ear. Pain signals that there is a problem somewhere. With earwax clogging up your ear canals, you could feel pressure and discomfort.
Fortunately, you can avoid both issues by cleaning your ear canals regularly. Make sure you use gentle cleansers, and try not to scrub too hard. Take particular care to clean the area surrounding the eardrum. Do not put anything too heavy over your ears. In fact, you should avoid putting anything in your ear at all, especially earplugs.
Regularly checking your ear canals for blockage ensures you don’t miss the warning signs until it’s too late. Cleaning your ear canals should be done twice per week. Try to ensure that you thoroughly clean the entire ear canal. Doing so removes dirt, debris, and dead cells. Then follow with a warm bath to rinse away whatever you missed. Finally, apply a soothing ointment to ease the itching sensation.
To learn more about earwax and related topics, please read the following articles:
How Wax Builds Up in Ears
Wax Glands Produce Sebum
What Causes Darkened Earwax
Does my Ear Canal Hurt When I Shower?
What Causes Darkened Earwax?
There are several reasons why your earwax may appear dark. First, you may simply have a lot of earwax in your ear canals. Second, you may have allergies. Third, you could have gotten sick with diarrhea or eaten foods rich in iron. Fourth, you could have taken antibiotics. Fifth, you could have suffered from a viral illness. Sixth, you could have used a decongestant spray. And lastly, you could have ingested a dye.
Some dyes contain chemicals that bind to proteins inside your earwax. By binding to these proteins, the chemicals force the proteins to stick together and form crystals. When you rub the earwax with a cotton ball, the cotton fibers pull the crystals apart, leaving behind a sticky mass of earwax proteins. When you touch your ear, the proteins end up sticking to your skin. Dye can also get under your skin and travel to your brain. Some people say that the smell of dyed earwax is similar to paint thinner.
Dyes can also affect earwax indirectly. Certain medications, such as antifungal drugs, may decrease the secretion of sweat. As a result, your earwax may dry out and lose its shine. Other medications, including birth control pills, antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics, can also alter your sweat levels.
If you suspect that you’ve developed earwax allergies, you should consult your physician first. He or she may prescribe special earwax medication to treat your earwax allergy symptoms.
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