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Ear-Tok: Doctors warn of the risks of TikTok ear-cleaning trend

Ear cleaning TIkTok trend and the dangers
Ear cleaning TIkTok trend and the dangers 03:16

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Once again, TikTok is center stage in a trend that is a bit concerning. 

That trend is ear cleaning. 

That's right, ear cleaning. We're talking about the type that could damage your hearing. 

We often have a fascination with the unusual and the gross so it's no surprise that ear wax cleaning videos are popular, but be careful what you imitate. 

Take a scroll through TikTok and you'll undoubtedly see them - folks digging in their ears for wax. 

"It makes us cringe, but you don't realize, your ear is a very delicate organ," said Dr. Brian Lamb from Allegheny Health Network. 

Dr. Lamb said the digging and scraping are totally unnecessary because our ears are made to clean themselves.

"The wax is there for a reason - it helps protect the ear," he said. "It helps capture things that are flying in there that aren't supposed to be there from dusts to even as gross as it sounds, bugs." 

The videos don't surprise Dr. Lamb because he has seen his share of ears packed with wax, and often the culprit is a Q-Tip. 

"They're actually making the problem worse because they're pushing the wax and the debris back in," Dr. Lamb said. 

Those tools and even cameras that are being so heavily touted to scrape the ear and clean the canal might not be all they're chalked up to be. 

"If you're scraping incorrectly you can actually cut the skin which can then lead to bacterial infections," he cautioned. "You could, in the worst-case scenario, actually puncture your drum." 

While wax is certainly annoying, Dr. Lamb told us that it naturally works its way out of the ear canal. 

"When you clean your ear, you take nothing bigger than your pinky finger and you only clean the outside of the ear because you know that's where everything is going to come out to wipe around the edge there," Dr. Lamb said. "The inner ear will take care of itself. You don't have to help it."

In short, what you see on social media it's just not safe for people to clean their ears that way. 

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