I think it goes without saying that Q-tips are quite possible one of the best inventions in the world. The feeling of sticking these little things in your ears cannot be beat- especially after a long day on the hot, sandy beach. But, have you ever looked at a box of q-tips? On each container, it points out the variety of uses such as First Aid, Baby Care, Electronics, and Household Use. Where does it say anything about ears? Look a little closer. If you turn the box to the side, you’ll see “WARNING: Do not insert swab into ear canal”. Wait, what? How is it that one of the main uses of Q-tips is under a warning label? Well, here’s why.
As explained by William H. Shapiro in this brief video, wax is essential for your body, specifically your ears. Two essential “duties” of earwax are to protect your body from insects crawling inside of you (ew, right?) and to also prevent fungus, bacteria, and viruses from forming. You’re not going to be known as a fun-guy if you have a ton of fungi in your ears.. if you know what I’m saying.
Also, the potential for physical harm arises as well. If forced in too far, Q-tips will push back the wax in your ears and impact the ear canal. Harm to your ear canal can likely cause loss in hearing. If effected enough, one can even rapture their ear drum. Ouch. Not worth it if you ask me. However, what is one expected to do when they get that “itch” in their ear? Klein explains this cycle through a metaphor which we can all relate to. When one gets a mosquito bite, they feel obligated to scratch it. While there’s a sense of relief and pleasure throughout these few scratches, it just becomes more itchy! Now replace the mosquito bite with a Q-tip in your ear. Klein refers to this as a “vicious” cycle, and I find that hard to argue against.
Nevertheless, is the temporary pleasure worth the spiders, fungi, or a raptured ear drum? Don’t risk it. Make a Q-tip snowman instead.