Earwax can be gooey and gross, and it is not the most scintillating of conversational topics. We all have it, but who wants to talk about it? We do! Normal ear wax ranges from light orange to dark brown, but if it’s yellow, green, white, or black, that suggests an infection and you need to see a doctor.
Earwax – or “cerumen,” helps keep dirt and bacteria from getting too far inside your ear canal. This sticky substance is actually very important for our bodies and can tell us a lot about our health. It sounds like a disgusting idea at first, but the next time you clean your ears you should take a close look at what comes out. Scroll down to see what your earwax says about you!
SOFT AND PALE YELLOW
Wax that is soft and yellow in texture most often belongs to children. It is normal and healthy for children to produce a lot more earwax than adults. As children grow older, they will produce less.
IT’S STICKY, OR DRY
For all of us, it’s one or the other. And your type can provide clues to your genetic ancestry. Research appearing finds that most people of Asian decent have dry earwax, while people of African or European descent have sticky or “wet” wax. They also state “this was a genetic adaptation to the climates in which our ancestors evolved”.
Gray earwax may look unusual, but if you see it on your cotton swab, there’s no need to worry. The gray color is normally just the effect of the ear’s natural cleaning process. But if the wax is dry and brittle and your ear is itchy, it could be a sign of eczema. If you notice these symptoms, it’s best to visit a doctor.
THICK AND DARK
Apocrine glands in your ears are what create wax. When you are stressed or afraid, these glands react by producing more wax than usual. It’s a similar reaction to sweating under pressure. When earwax produces at a quicker rate than your body can naturally push it out of the ear canal, a wax buildup can occur. Too many earwax can make a blockage, leading to a temporary hearing loss.
BLACK OR DARK BROWN
Earwax that is dark brown or even black can look pretty scary. But the good news is, there’s no need to worry. The dark color may just be the effect of an overproduction of wax (like what happens when we’re stressed). It can also mean that the wax has simply been in the ear longer than usual. When it’s eliminated, the increased contact with oxygen turns it a darker color.