hydrogen peroxide in ear and earwax removal
Since hydrogen peroxide is potent at breaking down earwax, it is a popular ingredient in ear drops. However, overuse of this chemical can cause ear pain and inflammation.

Hydrogen peroxide is a popular ingredient in ear drops used to treat ear infections and earwax removal (cerumen). It is safe when used carefully as directed by your healthcare provider. However, the use of this chemical must be restricted to the prescribed concentration and frequency.

Hydrogen peroxide is a potent oxidizing agent and may cause skin irritation and rashes in some people, especially when used at high concentrations. At concentrations over 10 percent, it can even cause burns and blistering. Overuse of hydrogen peroxide can also cause ear pain and inflammation.

Other side effects of excessive hydrogen peroxide use include:

Additionally, hydrogen peroxide may cause residual bubbling in the ears that can interfere with ear examinations. So, avoid using this chemical if you have an ear infection or a perforated eardrum unless your doctor asks you to do so.

How do you use hydrogen peroxide to remove earwax?

Hydrogen peroxide is a potent cerumenolytic agent (chemicals that break down ear wax and help remove it). When using this chemical to remove earwax, consider the following: 

Things you need:

  • Three percent hydrogen peroxide solution
  • A medicine dropper
  • A soft cloth or a towel

How to use hydrogen peroxide in the ear:

  1. Fill a small amount of three percent hydrogen peroxide in a medicine dropper.
  2. Tilt your head to one side and add two to three drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear with the help of the dropper. You may get help from someone to do this.
  3. Keep your head tilted so the ear in which you dropped the solution stays upright.
  4. Stay in this position for four to five minutes. You may feel some fizzing in the affected ear as the wax gets dissolved in the peroxide solution.
  5. Slowly turn your head against the soft cloth or towel to drain out the solution and excess earwax.
  6. Clean your ear with a soft cloth or a hand towel. Ensure that you dry the outer ear with a clean cloth or towel.

What are some other ways to clean earwax at home?

Generally, cleaning your ears is not needed because they can clean themselves. Earwax is a protective substance produced within the ear that serves several important functions, such as preventing inner ear infections, acting as a natural moisturizer, and trapping dust and dirt. The wax migrates from deep inside the ear canal to the outside on its own. 

Nonetheless, some people have more earwax production that poses problems, such as a sensation of ear fullness, muffled hearing, dizziness, and tinnitus. The safest way to remove this ear wax is by consulting with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor.

There are, however, some home remedies to remove ear wax, such as:

  • Popping the ears (Valsalva maneuver): For performing the Valsalva maneuver, you must plug your nose with your fingers and blow out while keeping the lips closed and cheeks puffed. This maneuver will cause an instant “popping” sensation and provide relief for stuffy or clogged ears.
  • Ear irrigation: One can try an over-the-counter ear irrigation kit, although it should be done carefully by following every provided instruction. Ear irrigation should not be done if the person had recent ear surgery or an active ear infection. The kit can be used two or three times a day or as instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Warm compression: Steam or warm compress may be used to help unclog the ears. For this, you may place a warm compress on the affected ear to let the steam get inside. Taking a hot shower for 10 to 15 minutes may also serve the same purpose.
  • Oil drops: You can use oils available at home, such as olive, baby, or mineral oil to clear the clogged ears. Use any of these oils at lukewarm temperatures and add two to three drops to the affected ear. Tilt your head for 15 to 20 seconds. Wipe the ear and repeat two to three times to remove the collected wax. Frequent use of oil drops is not recommended because it may cause fungal infections of the ear.
  • Over-the-counter nasal decongestants: They may provide relief from clogged ears, especially when you have nasal or sinus inflammation. Over-the-counter ear drops may also be used following the label instructions.

Some popular earwax removal techniques, such as cotton-tipped swabs or candle methods, for unclogging your ears must not be used because they can be harmful.

It is recommended to seek professional help whenever possible, especially if:

  • There is severe ear pain
  • The ears stay persistently clogged
  • You develop a fever
  • There is persistent or increasing swelling on the face
  • You develop hearing loss
  • There is ear discharge

Is hydrogen peroxide safe to put on your teeth?

hydrogen peroxide teeth
Using hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening products are generally safe when used in lower concentrations and less frequently.

Although teeth whitening hydrogen peroxide has been declared safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are still some risks of side effects.

Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent that can help whiten teeth. Many over-the-counter tooth whitening toothpaste and products have a good amount of hydrogen peroxide in them; however, they must not be used over a concentration of three percent.

Studies have shown that hydrogen peroxide can be used to whiten teeth but at a great cost to the tooth enamel. Overuse of hydrogen peroxide may cause gum irritation and tooth decay. When used sparingly (two times a week) and at concentrations no more than three percent, it is generally safe.

4 benefits of hydrogen peroxide for oral health

  1. Eases toothache
    • Try putting a capful of three percent hydrogen peroxide diluted with an equal amount of water in your mouth, rinse thoroughly, and spit it out.
    • Much of the pain associated with toothaches are caused by swelling and infection, which hydrogen peroxide can help combat.
    • However, this is only a temporary solution, and you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
  2. May help treat gingivitis
    • Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent germ-killing agent, especially in the case of gingivitis.
    • Swish an ounce of three percent hydrogen peroxide vigorously after flossing and brushing your teeth, making sure to get all of the gum lines, including behind the upper lip.
    • Swish for five to six seconds, then spit out the chemical and rinse with water.
  3. Toothpaste substitute
    • Brush your teeth with a mixture of one part hydrogen peroxide to four parts baking soda. It might be a little grittier than you are used to, but it works pretty much the same.
  4. Mouthwash
    • Many use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash because it is a strong disinfectant that prevents canker sores and mouth wounds from becoming infected, allowing for faster healing.
    • If you have a sore throat, you can relieve it by using three percent hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash. Its antibacterial properties can help fight bacterial infections that cause sore throats.
    • Furthermore, when your mucus comes into contact with hydrogen peroxide, it produces foam. The foam makes the mucus less sticky, allowing it to drain more easily.

Most dentists recommend cleaning your toothbrush one time a week in a freshly poured cup of hydrogen peroxide because it kills the germs. Additionally, using hydrogen peroxide in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing reduces gum inflammation.

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing and disinfecting agent. It is effective because it can break down the complex molecules that cause staining of the teeth.

How does hydrogen peroxide whiten the teeth?

Dentists can use whitening strips and gels with a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide because of the safety features included in their whitening treatments.

4 side effects of hydrogen peroxide for oral health

  1. Rinsing with undiluted hydrogen peroxide can cause damage to tooth enamel and the oral cavity.
  2. You may notice redness around your gums and irritation inside your mouth the first time you gargle with hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Though the use of hydrogen peroxide is not particularly hazardous, mild teeth sensitivity and gum pain are common.
  4. A rare side effect of using hydrogen peroxide is throat soreness.

Hydrogen peroxide studies have concluded that it is safe to use in appropriate concentrations for teeth whitening. Any hydrogen peroxide-containing gel whitening formulation must adhere to the safety standards of the American Dental Association and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Check with your dentist to ensure both optimal and safe results when using any whitening treatment. Your dentist can ensure that hydrogen peroxide is used safely and thoroughly, as well as answer any other questions you may have about it.

Is hydrogen peroxide effective against viruses like COVID-19 as a disinfectant?

Hydrogen peroxide kills a wide variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and spores.

When used on inanimate surfaces, commercially available three percent hydrogen peroxide is a stable and effective disinfectant. It has been used to disinfect ventilators, fabrics, and endoscopes at concentrations ranging from three to six percent.

Hydrogen peroxide is on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of antimicrobials that are effective against COVID-19.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/11/2022
References
Cleveland Clinic. Ear Wax Removal 101: The Best (and Safest) Ways to Clear Clogged Ears. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/ear-wax-removal-101-the-best-and-safest-ways-to-clear-clogged-ears/

McCarter DF, Courtney AU, Pollart SM. Cerumen impaction. Am Fam Physician. 2007 May 15;75(10):1523-8. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0515/p1523.html