Earwax type

Earwax typeGenetic testing and earwax type

Earwax is generally considered a pain in the neck, an annoying substance that collects in the ears and looks bad. Despite all, it plays an important role by waxing the auditory canal. In addition, it protects against insects, infections and physical particles such as dust, water and soil. Just as it is not good to have too little of it, it is also not beneficial to have too much of it for it can reduce the ability to hear. People differ among each other in the earwax type which can be wet or dry.

More details about earwax type

Most of the time, the auditory canal undergoes self-cleansing. Earwax does not form right next to the eardrum but rather on the periphery, somewhere in the outer 1/3 of the auditory canal. Slowly but persistently, the earwax migrates towards the periphery where it dries up, forms clusters and eventually falls off. The movements of the jaw, such as those which occur during chewing, also help in advancement of the earwax.

There are two types of earwax. The dry type contains around 20% of lipids and is of greyish-yellow colour and in shape of flake. The wet type contains around 50% lipids, is brown or honey-coloured and sticky. An individual's genetic material determines whether a person will have the wet or the dry form of earwax. The majority of people of the European and African descent have wet earwax while the majority of the people of Asian ancestry as well as Native Americans have the dry type of earwax. A change in the gene that causes dry earwax is also linked to a reduced production of sweat.