Hydrogen peroxide is safe to use in the ear at the correct dilution, in the right situation and for the right indication. It can be used for ear wax removal, loosening debris or wax and providing an antimicrobial effect. Commercial preparations of hydrogen peroxide for use in the ear are available in some countries. In others, the preparation may be freshly prepared by a pharmacist. In this case, the solution should be used as soon as possible after preparation.
Wax, or cerumen, is a hydrophobic yellowish substance produced by the ear. It is made up of secretions, dead skin and hair, which naturally come out over time. The wax provides both a waterproof barrier and protects the ear from bacteria and other foreign substances. Unnecessary removal of the wax is not recommended, as the wax works to protect the ear.
Excessive accumulation of wax may occur, however, and this may need treatment. Impaction of wax may cause hearing loss, pain or dizziness. If pain is experienced, peroxide in the ear should not be used without medical supervision. Other causes, such as rupture of the ear drum, should first be ruled out by the doctor. Such causes may require alternative treatment.
Diluted hydrogen peroxide in the ear is used to soften the wax and allow easier removal. It is a water-based solution and works using a foaming action to loosen debris and wax. The foaming effect is due to the release of oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide in the ear may be used to soften the wax before irrigation of the ear, or on its own for a longer period. Usually the drops are instilled 15 to 30 minutes before irrigation, and the user needs to keep his head tilted to keep the drops in the ear canal until the irrigation is finished. When used alone, the drops should be instilled once or twice daily for three to four days. Again, it is necessary to keep the head still and tilted for a little while after instilling the drops to prevent them from running out of the ear.
The ear is a delicate organ and should always be treated with care. If there is any doubt as to the cause of loss of hearing, pain or dizziness, medical attention should be sought. Objects and solutions should not be inserted into the ear without medical supervision. It is not normally necessary to clean out ear wax, as the process should occur naturally.