Are there side effects to ear wax removal?

Professional ear wax removal is a safe and effective method for removing excess ear wax, but you may notice some temporary changes to your ears – especially if the wax has been building up for some time.

The most common of these changes include:

  • Your ears feel cold
  • Greater sound sensitivity
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Your ear throbbing or feeling sore

The majority of these side effects usually pass within 24 hours as your body adjusts. If there is any throbbing or soreness, we recommend that you keep your ears dry for 24 hours. You can do this by placing a ball of cotton wool coated in Vaseline at the opening of your ear canal. Remember, though, that pushing anything down inside your ear canal could cause damage.

Ear wax colours and types


Bloody ear wax may not mean an emergency as there are lots of blood vessels in the ear canal and it could just be a scratch.

However, it could also mean a bad infection. For people with a hole in the eardrum who have developed an infection, it could be a sign of blood passing through from behind the ear drum.

Bloody ear wax could have also been caused by trauma to the ear caused by activities like scuba diving – causing ruptured ear drums. If the problem persists or there is excessive blood, seek immediate medical advice.


Watery ear wax and/or discharge, might be a “swimmer’s ear” infection. Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an infection in the outer ear canal. Its name refers to the fact that it is commonly caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming. With that said, there are plenty of other risk factors including; skin allergies; over cleaning of the ear canal with cotton buds; and the use of earphones and hearing aids.

Whatever the cause, the warm, moist environment causes bacteria to grow, in turn causing an infection. As well as discharge, early symptoms may include itching in the ear canal, a slight redness in the ear and mild pain – which increases when the outer ear (called the pinna) or the tragus (the bump in front of your ear) is pushed or pulled. As the infection worsens, these symptoms will only get worse. This can then result in severe pain beyond the ear to your face and neck, progressing to swelling in the lymph nodes around your neck. Fevers can occur as well as complete blockages of the ear canal.


Grey sticky ear wax is discharge from an outer ear infection similar to swimmer’s ear.


Green ear wax discharge is usually a sign of a major ear infection – most often stemming from the middle ear. Seek medical advice as usually a course of antibiotics is needed to treat the infection.

Bad Smells

Ordinary ear wax does have a unique smell but if it starts to smell fishy this is a sign of a bacterial infection. While if it starts to smell fungal then it’s most probably a fungal infection.


A brown colour, particularly a light brown colour is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. A very dark brown ear wax, can be caused by dirt. But equally it might be caused by dry blood. If you suspect this is the case, please seek the advice of your doctor.


Black can be another normal colour of earwax. However, if this is normal for you, it could be caused by oxidisation when the wax makes contact with air or a combination of dirt and ear wax. If you suspect it’s blood, please seek medical help.

White, dry, and flaky

There’s usually nothing to worry about in this case. Some people just produce slightly different ear wax.

No ear wax

Everyone’s different and this is likely nothing to worry about. You probably do produce ear wax but not enough to become visible in your outer ear.