Medical Definition of Ear wax

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    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.

Reviewed on 12/4/2018

Ear wax: A natural wax-like substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels water, and traps material such as dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, and then dries up and falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles. Ear wax is helpful in normal amounts and serves 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.

There are two types of ear wax: wet and dry.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018