What is Ear Wax?

Ear wax can be a very exciting topic! Ear wax, also called cerumen, is a naturally occuring substance that is made up of secretions from special sweat glands called “ceruminous glands” and “sebaceous” or oil glands, as well as dead skin cells, and other debris. Contrary to popular belief, cerumen is actually quite functional; it serves as a lubricant, water repellent, an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal agent, and an entrapper of dust and even insects. Its function is similar to eyes producing tears. Imagine your eyes if you didn’t have tears.

Believe it or not – not all ear wax is created equal. Ear wax can be hard or soft; yellow or brown; flaky or runny. There are many types of ear wax and these are genetically conditioned. For example, people of Asian descent and Aboriginal peoples have a dry flaky wax that has been referred to as “oatbran” wax. A physician would find this type of wax relatively easy to remove. In contrast to the dry wax, Western Europeans and those of African descent generally have a softer, stickier type of wax.