A new study in The Journal of Pediatrics confirms what doctors have told us all along. Putting cotton swabs like Q-tips in our ears is dangerous, especially for young children. Each year, about 12,500 children under the age of 18 are treated in US emergency departments for ear injuries related to cotton swabs, the study says. That breaks down to about 34 visits per day.
Associate Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Stephen Lauer, says the study is no surprise to any pediatrician. In the video, Dr. Lauer notes that the body generally gets rid of excess wax on its own, but if there is a problem, many over-the-counter remedies can help. However, if the wax is impacted, Dr. Lauer says a cotton swab just makes it worse and can damage the inner ear permanently. He says the only safe way to get out impacted wax is to go to a doctor, who will have the right tools and skills to safely get the wax out. Dr. Lauer explains the dangers and uses an ear model to demonstrate the dangers of cotton swabs.