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A Brief History of Ear Cleaning

A Brief History of Ear Cleaning

Cleaning our ears is a mundane task we typically don’t spend much time thinking about. But did you know that using a cotton swab, the most common way people clean their ears, is actually ineffective and risky?

Ear cleaning practices have involved some of the strangest and most outdated methods. In fact, ear cleaning really hasn’t changed in nearly 200 years… until now. The recent development of OtoSet®, the first automated ear cleaning system, is set to transform ear care.

Earwax: a naturally occurring substance
Also known as cerumen, earwax is a substance that the ears naturally produce. It is a combination of dead skin cells and secretions from two glands. You may be surprised to know that earwax serves an important purpose. It provides the ears with a protective coat that keeps them moisturized. This prevents dryness, itchiness, and possible irritation which could lead to infection. In addition to this, earwax collects bacteria. This traps bacteria, dirt, and other hazardous substances which stops them from entering the inner ear. These antibacterial properties prevent infections and help keep the ears healthy. Though earwax naturally makes its way out of the ears, sometimes excess earwax can accumulate in the ear canal which requires removal.

Removing earwax through the ages
Removal practices through the ages have included some pretty odd methods that have carried on to today. A few common examples include:

  • Ear Picks: a popular method of ear cleaning from the U.S. to Japan and ancient Rome involves using ear picks. In the U.S., ear picks can be traced back to the 16th century when they were even worn as an accessory. They were typically made out of brass or ivory and were used to scrape out earwax. Nowadays, people use anything from bobby pins to paperclips to remove earwax. But using a foreign object to pick at the ears and remove earwax can not only lead to injury, but is not an effective way to clean the ears.
  • Ear Candling: another old method that is still used is ear candling. This involves inserting one end of a candle in the ear while the other end burns. It is claimed that this produces suction that gathers and extracts earwax out of the ear. Ear candling has been a documented practice in numerous ancient cultures (Egyptian, Mayan, Native American, Tibetan). There have been numerous studies assessing the effectiveness of ear candling, a technique that people still practice. There is no scientific evidence that shows earwax is removed using this method. Physicians strongly advise against ear candling because it can produce injuries and ear infections while also not even removing earwax.
  • Cotton Swabs: the most recognizable item used to remove earwax is the cotton swab. Introduced in 1923, the cotton swab was actually developed to clean various body parts like the eyes, gums, and nose. But over time, cleaning the ear canals became the primary purpose people used them for. Physicians strongly advise against using cotton swabs to remove earwax because they can easily push earwax further into the ear which can contribute to more serious ear-related issues. It even says so on the box!

Though we’ve experienced significant innovations with advanced technology, ear hygiene is an area that has remained outdated. Practices and tools used to clean the ears have not been modernized – until now!

OtoSet®: Innovating Ear Care
Healthcare providers have two primary methods to remove earwax.

  • Ear irrigation involves using warm water being sprayed into the ear with an ear & bladder syringe to remove earwax.
  • Manual methods involve using specific tools like a curette (a small, curved tool) to remove earwax.

These strategies are often risky, take more time than you would think, and are not always successful in completely removing earwax.

OtoSet® is the world’s first automated ear cleaning device. It combines microsuction and irrigation technology in a wearable headset to thoroughly and comfortably remove earwax. Resembling headphones, OtoSet®’s disposable ear tips direct solution to break down earwax which is then suctioned into waste containers. This cleaning cycle lasts 30 seconds and clean-up is also quick and simple. OtoSet® is not only easy to use but is an effective and efficient way to remove earwax. Contact us today to learn more!