Parenting Babycare

What Causes Earwax in Toddlers, Signs and Tips to Remove Earwax

Ambili S Kartha
1 to 3 years

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Jan 11, 2021

What Causes Earwax in Toddlers Signs and Tips to Remove Earwax
Reviewed by Expert panel

Ear wax is the body's way of preventing bacteria and other foreign particles from getting into the ear and damaging eardrum. Usually, the child ear produce just as much wax is required. However, in some cases, ears make excess ear wax. Once the earwax builds up, it can bring about discomfort, pain, partial hearing loss, itchiness, and dryness of the ears. If this happens to your toddler, it is important to deal with this issue wisely as over building up of ear wax and careless removal of it will cause several issues that could eventually lead to loss of hearing in toddlers.

What Is Ear Wax?

The ear is divided into three parts; the outer, middle and the inner ear. The outer ear comprises pinna ( the ear lobe which you see externally), ear canal and the eardrum. The ear canal is lined with ceruminous glands. The ceruminous glands in ears secrete earwax, which is also known as cerumen, a substance that helps to keep your child's ears clean and healthy.

What Are The Functions Of Ear Wax?

  1. The function of the ear wax is to combat infection, moistens and lubricates the ear canal and traps little bits of dirt and dust
  2. Being acidic in nature and the presence of a powerful enzyme called lysozyme, ear wax prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus which can otherwise boom in the ear canal
  3. Ear wax is sticky and oily in nature. This will form a waterproof layer on ear canal and prevent the skin maceration due to water accumulation (during swimming and bathing)

As a rule, ear wax builds up, dries out, and then moves to the child's outer ear. From there it is expelled out. Sometimes, however, earwax accumulates faster than the child's body pushes it out. This is how ear wax buildup happens in children.

What Are The Signs Of Ear Wax Build Up In Toddlers?

If there is too much ear wax, the children,

  1. Start rubbing or tugging their ear
  2. Develops an earache
  3. Tends to dig their ears
  4. Develops itching in the ear
  5. Will not respond to small sounds
  6. An unusual amount of ear wax may start coming out of the ear
  7. They continuously complain of feeling something in the ear. This is because ear wax can turn dry and hard if it is not expelled from the ear even after a particular period
  8. A large piece of earwax may be seen inside the ear canal if you examine the ear with the help of a torch
  9. If the wax traps the water, it can lead to complete blockage (plugging) of the ear canal. This can bring about very poor hearing

How Can I Confirm My Child Is Having Ear Wax Issues Rather Than An Ear Infection?

The symptoms that surfaces due to ear wax accumulation and an ear infection are more or less the same. However, unlike ear infection, ear wax accumulation will not bring about sleep difficulties and fever in toddlers.

What Causes Earwax Build Up In Toddlers?

  1. Wax impaction is the usual cause of ear wax issues in toddlers. This happens when the grown-ups try to remove the wax with a cotton bud or by means of other mechanisms. These objects, instead of pulling out the wax, will push it into the deeper part of the ear. It will even make the wax tightly packed instead of its loose texture. This will prevent the wax from moving towards the outer part of the ear and expel as in the normal course
  2. When toddlers develop a habit of putting a finger in the ear often they might push back the wax
  3. If they used to wear hearing aids or earplugs, they will push back the wax deeper into the ear canal
  4. The congenital abnormal shape of the ear canal can lead to the building up of wax
  5. Some toddlers have a tendency to produce more ear wax than normal. This can lead to ear wax build up and associated issues

How Can I Remove Ear Wax From My Toddler's Ear?

An attempt to remove hard wax can cause abrasion and pain to the delicate ear canal skin of your baby. If not carefully deal your attempt can even damage the eardrum of the child. Therefore, it is always recommended to take the child to the doctor for removing stubborn ear wax. Ear wax removal of a toddler should be done by an experienced practitioner. However, there are some methods to encourage the wax to get loosened and expel from the toddler's ear.

  1. Clean with Damp Cheesecloth:

    You can clean the earwax accumulated near the ear opening and on ear lobs by gently wiping with a damp cheesecloth
  2. Ear Drops:

    There are pediatric ear drops available in the medical store. You can use it as per instruction in the bottle. This will help to soften the hardened wax so that it easily expel on its own
  3. Warm Olive Oil:

    If you want to go for a natural solution, olive oil is the best option. Warm some oil. Bring it to skin temperature.With a dropper apply it to affected ears. Ask the child to lie down for some time with the affected ear facing upward. Most often when the child sits up, the wax will come out


What Don't's in Earwax -

  1. Never use cotton swabs to clean the toddler's ear
  2. Never try to dig out pieces of ear wax with toothpicks, matchsticks or other devices. It can scratch the ear canal and cause infection and damage the "tissue thin" eardrum
  3. Even though flushing the toddler's ear with warm water is safely performed in clinics by the doctors, it is not suggested to try out at home
  4. Ear candling is a big "no" as far as the toddler is concerned

Did you like the blog? Did you find it useful? Please share your thoughts, ideas and feedbacks with us in the comments section below; we’d love to hear from you.


This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Mar 27, 2018

the much awaited blog with handy tips to deal with ear wax. thanka for sharing.

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| Mar 28, 2018

Thanks a lot for suggestion, as my baby, he always rub his ears, especially while sleeping.

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| Mar 28, 2018

Thanks For Sharing.. this may help my baby bcoz he mostly dig his ear with pressure n then he cries...

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| Mar 30, 2018

Dr. Gave Soliwax drops for earwax to my 11 months old baby... & it really works...

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| Sep 23, 2018

First aid for ant inside ear 1 to 3 years kids

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| Sep 09, 2020

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