March 17, 2013

Some Facts About Q-Tips and Ears

In this week's episode of "Girls" (Season 2; Episode 9 "Girls Gets Dark"), Hannah grappling with OCD, inserted a Q-tip deep into her ear canal and "heard air hiss out the hole" due to perforating her eardrum.

Although this scene came out of a TV show, this scenario is not uncommon and results in many ENT office visits every month for not only eardrum perforations, but bleeding due to trauma to the ear canal skin.

Some facts about Q-tips as it relates to the ear...

It should never be used to clean earwax within the ear canal. In fact, on Unilever's website (the maker of Q-tips), the company explicitly states that Q-tips should only be used to "gently around the outer ear, without entering the ear canal." [link]

In fact, the word "ear" appears less than a dozen times on the entire Q-tip website.

Apparently, Q-tips are meant for many other uses beyond ears which play only a very small role in the world of Q-tips.

• Cleaning tiny spaces in ventilator grates
• Applying polishes to silverware
• Dust picture frames
• Clean keyboards and the computer screen
• Applying wood stain
• Clean tracks and grooves of medicine cabinets
• Clean small compartments of washing machines

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very useful information. I do tend to use a q-tip to go into the first part of the ear canal. I have read several articles related to just not doing anything, your ears are in a sense self-cleaning. Based on what I have read in this blog and from your description, you appear to a very busy and competent doctor. I was curious on how to select a good ENT doctor. Do you give recommendations? I live in South Florida and I came across this group of doctors - Florida ENT and Allergy. They have a very impressive website ( with a lot of relevant information, but I don't know how to determine their level of competency. They seem to be very well regarded. How does one go about finding/determine how good doctors are? Thank you for all your help.

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