What do we know about earwax?

In News by Dr Riaz Rampuri

Earwax, also known as cerumen, comes in two primary types: wet and dry. The type of earwax a person has is determined by genetics, ethnicity, and other factors.

  1. Wet earwax (cerumen):
    • Yellow to brown: Wet earwax tends to be softer and stickier than dry earwax and is often yellow to brown.
    • Population prevalence: East Asian descent, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean individuals.
    • May have a stronger odour: Some people with wet earwax may notice a stronger odour compared to those with dry earwax.
  2. Dry earwax (cerumen):
    • Consistency: Dry earwax is typically drier and flakier than wet earwax.
    • Population prevalence: European and African descent.
    • Less likely to cause blockages: Dry earwax is less likely than wet earwax to cause blockages in the ear canal but may require more frequent removal due to its tendency to accumulate and harden.

While wet earwax and dry earwax are the primary types, individuals may have variations in consistency and colour. Additionally, the production of earwax varies from person to person and can be influenced by factors such as age, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions.