Facing the FAQs
Are you like the 85 percent of respondents to an Oprah.com poll who said they use cotton swabs to clean their ears? Dr. Oz says you may as well be "taking a muzzle-loader and shoving it in there."
"Wax is the sweat that the body deposits in the ear lining," he says. "When our ancestors were walking along in the sub-Saharan desert, the dust would get caught like an insect trap and prevent it from getting into your eardrum. When you take this cotton swab and you start shoving that wax into your eardrum, you risk not only blocking off the pathway, but you also risk perforating—making a hole—in your eardrum which is just a millimeter thick."
If you have an excessive buildup of earwax and want to get rid of it, Dr. Oz suggests using "a little mineral oil, drop it in there, it will melt it, and it will come out by itself. You don't have to go plunging in there."
So what are you supposed to be using those cotton swabs in your medicine cabinet for anyway? "Taking off makeup," Dr. Oz says.