Hydrogen peroxide is commonly found in pharmacies and stores selling personal care products. It is an inexpensive and potentially helpful tool for loosening up problematic earwax and flushing your ears if you believe you have mild impaction or buildup. But how safe is hydrogen peroxide, and what are some considerations for its use?
How to use hydrogen peroxide to remove built-up wax
Hydrogen peroxide is best used by inserting a few drops of the solution directly into the ear canal and allowing it to sit for a few minutes by tilting your head, so the treated ear faces the ceiling. You may hear fizzing or bubbling, which is perfectly normal. Then, tilt your ear down toward a sink or basin and allow the liquid to drain. You can fill a bulb syringe, made specifically for the ear, with warm water and flush the ear a few times. While the treatment may be working, it may not be readily apparent – don’t expect to see chunks of earwax dropping out.
There are a few considerations here. First, filling the entire ear canal with hydrogen peroxide is unnecessary. 4 to 6 drops should do just fine. Second, it is important not to leave the hydrogen peroxide solution in your ear for more than a few minutes. While the 3% concentration sold in stores is not dangerous, anything more than 6% or so can potentially irritate the skin. Also, peroxide becomes water and oxygen once it reacts with substances like protein and fat. Water isn’t great for the ear canal skin, and prolonged exposure can lead to infection (swimmer’s ear) by breaking down the skin’s natural protective function.