THERE'S something oddly satisfying about sticking a cotton bud in your ear and looking at it change colour when it's pulled out.
But one doctor has warned that you need to put them down – as they can cause damage to your ears.
Posting to Instagram, Dr Sara Kayat said that you don't need to use them – as your ears are actually self-cleaning.
She explained: "They don’t need you with your little cotton-blobbed baton, poking about in there."
But for those of you still insisting on using them as a cleaning instrument, Dr Kayat said you're putting yourself at risk of a number of issues.
Firstly she said – you could cause a perforation – which is a rupturing of the ear drum.
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You might experience sudden hearing loss, earache, or even fluid leaking from your ear.
Common causes of this include using cotton buds, a blow to the ear or an ear infection.
The guru added that you might also cause a nasty infection.
"When you damage the delicate skin in the ear canal poking about with a bud, you increase your risk of getting an infection," she said.
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Another little known side effect of using cotton buds, she said, is 'wax impaction'.
She explained that by using the buds, you can actually push the goey stuff further back.
This, she said, then turns into a hard lump which is even harder to remove and will make you feel 'more deaf'.
Surprisingly, she said using the tools can actually cause hair damage.
"You can damage the little hairs that are in your ears that help to naturally push the wax out and help protect the ear from dirt and debris," Dr Kayat added.
While all these reasons are important ones to not use the little buds, Dr Kayat added that we actually need wax inside our ears.
SAFE EAR CLEANING SOLUTIONS
Dr Jerry Lin, an ear, nose and throat specialist revealed the best ear cleaning hacks.
1. Ear drops– Dr Lin said that using ear drops can help with waxy ears.
The liquid solutions help thin and soften the ear wax, which leads to it breaking down and leaving the ear.
You can buy ear drops in pharmacies and they are usually under brand names such as Otex and Otosan.
2. Baking soda solution – Dr Lin suggested an easy-to-make baking soda solution – but said you should only use this method for two weeks.
All you need to do is dissolve half a teaspoon of baking soda in water and use a dispenser or dropper bottle to tip it into.
Then tilt your head to the side and drop five to ten drops of the solution into your ear.
After around an hour the wax should have softened and you then need to rinse the ear by using a rubber syringe filled with warm water.
When finished you need to tip your head to the side in order to let the water drain out.
Make sure you dry your ear with a clean, dry towel and you can do this once a day the ear clears up.
3. Olive oil – You can also use natural remedies to clear your ears such as oil – but make sure it's baby oil, mineral oil, coconut oil or olive oil.
These can all be used to soften and remove ear wax and again, you need to use a dropper bottle to pop it into your ear.
Wait a day or two for the wax to soften and then rinse it out again with warm water, as explained with the baking soda technique.
Once you have tipped the water out of your ear you then need to dry your ear again.
"It’s there to protect our ears against dirt, debris and microorganisms which it traps in its sticky goodness. It also keeps our ear canals moisturised.
"If you’re worried about a build up of wax, a kinder way to manage it is to help soften it up using olive oil. If that still isn’t enough then see your doc about ear wax removal.
"If you’re desperate to use a cotton bud, stick to using it on the outer ear, I want it no where near the ear canal," she said.
Another expert warned that if you do want to clean you ears, you should stay away from online trends.
Dr Jerry Lin, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the University of Louisville said you shouldn't try trends such as 'ear candling', Dr Lin said, which involves dropping hot wax into your ear.
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Another viral hack involves pouring hydrogen peroxide into the ears while lying on your side, before sitting up and allowing it to run out.
While some doctors use this as a legitimate ear cleaning strategy, there is the risk of skin irritation and blistering.
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