Ear Care Advice

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-238/2023
  • Departments: ENT
  • Last Updated: 28 April 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

General ear care advice

Following a discussion with your doctor about the problems you have been having with your ears, they have advised that you follow these general ear care instructions.

  1. Keep your ears dry. When washing your hair or showering / bathing, use a good sized piece of cotton wool; place it into the outer part of your ear. Then smear Vaseline over the top of the cotton wool and your ear in order to help waterproof it.
  2. Do not use cotton buds.
  3. Do not use any other objects such as matches, hair grips, crochet hooks, knitting needles etc in your ear.
  4. If you have a perforated ear drum, you should not have your ears syringed by anyone.
  5. If your ears are itchy do not scratch or rub them, either with your finger nails or any other objects.

Why do I need to do this?

  1. It is important to keep your ears dry, in order to help prevent infections.
  2. Cotton buds only push the wax/debris further down the ear canal and can lead to impacted wax, which can be painful. Also if the cotton part of the bud falls off into the canal, it can cause infection. The cotton buds can also scratch the canal and make it bleed which can lead to infection.
  3. People try to use various means to scratch their ears when itchy or to remove wax; these are not recommended as they can lead to infection and perforation of the ear drum.
  4. If you have a perforated ear drum, having your ears syringed is painful and can cause tinnitus, dislocation of the small bones of hearing and lead to infections.
  5. Scratching or rubbing of the ears can cause damage to the skin of the ears and can lead to infections and can make the problem worse.

This leaflet was produced by the ENT, Head and Neck Outpatients Department, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will be reviewed in April 2026.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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