NHS Dudley Health Economy Medicines Formulary
Home > 12 Ear, nose, and oropharynx > 12.1 Drugs acting on the ear > 12.1.3 Removal of ear wax

12.1.3 Removal of ear wax

General Guidance

  • Ear wax provides a normal protective layer on the meatal skin. It should only be removed if it caused deafness or interferes with a proper view of the ear.
  • When necessary wax should be removed by gentle syringing with water (warmed to room temperature), syringing should not be carried out in the presence of a perforation or if perforation is suspected.
  • If required simple remedies such as sodium bicarbonate or olive oil ear drops may be instilled to soften, hardened wax. It may be necessary to instil such products twice daily for a few days before syringing if the wax is hardened and impacted.
  • Some proprietary preparations contain organic solvents which may cause irritation such products are no more effective.

Recommended drugs

Olive oil ear drops

Sodium Bicarbonate ear drops


Drug Traffic Light Key:

Green – On Formulary

Amber – Restricted use, see local guidelines      

Purple – Specialist use/initiation

Red – Non Formulary


Relative Costs Key (where indicated):

£££££ - high

£££ - moderate

£ - low

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