Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The skin on the outer part of the ear canal has special
glands that produce ear wax, also known as cerumen. The purpose of this natural
wax is to protect the ear from damage and infections. Normally, a small amount of
wax accumulates and then dries up and falls out of the ear canal, carrying with
it unwanted dust or sand particles.
Ear wax is helpful to coat the skin of the ear canal where it acts as a temporary water
repellent. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even
infection. Ear wax is formed in the outer third of the ear canal.
What does ear wax look like?
in form and appearance from person to person. It may be almost liquid, firm and solid, or dry and
flaky. The color of
ear wax varies depending upon its composition. Glandular secretions,
sloughed skin cells, normal bacteria present on the surface of the canal, and
water may all be present in ear wax.
Ear Wax Illustration
The ear canals are considered to be self-cleaning. This means that ear wax and sloughed skin cells typically pass on their own from the inside of the ear canal to the outer opening. Old earwax moves from the deeper areas of the ear canal out to the opening. At the opening of the ear canal the ear wax usually dries up and falls out of the ear canal.