Earwax: Should It Be Removed?

W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPh; Joshua J. Pray, PharmD


US Pharmacist. 2005;30(5) 

In This Article


When cerumen is formed relatively close to the tympanic membrane, it is soft and fluid, colorless, and odorless. However, it normally moves outward toward the distal part of the ear through a process known as ceruminokinesis. This movement is not facilitated by cilia, like in the cleansing process of the lungs, as incorrectly noted in some Web sites. Instead, normal movements of the mandible act to move the cerumen outward. As it moves, it becomes darker, less fluid, and develops its characteristic odor.