What is the difference between wet and dry earwax?

Earwax, everyone has it but the consistency can vary from person to person. If you have ever found yourself wondering “What is the difference between wet and dry earwax”, then you’re in the right place. Keep on reading to find out more.


Wet Earwax


Composition: Otherwise known as cerumen, wet earwax is soft and moist in texture. The sticky consistency of cerumen is due to a high level of moisture and lipids such as cholesterol and fatty acids that form the earwax.


Function: Wet earwax plays a pivotal role in protecting the ears. Cerumen works to lubricate the ear canal, traps dust and debris and helps to prevent the growth of bacteria. The unique consistency mainly helps to stop particles from entering the ear canal and aid in their removal.


Genetics: Ethnicity can play a factor in the consistency of earwax, i.e. wet earwax is found more commonly among individuals of African and European descent; This variance in constancy is due to a certain gene.


Dry Earwax


Composition: Commonly referred to as flaky earwax, dry earwax is dry and crumbly in texture. Compared to wet earwax, the difference in consistency is due to fewer moisturising components and fewer lipids, resulting in a less sticky consistency.


Function: Compared to wet earwax, dry earwax does not offer the same amount of lubrication, however, it still serves as a mechanism that protects the ears. Dry earwax, like cerumen, helps to prevent foreign particles from entering the ear canal. 


Genetics: Dry earwax is often found in individuals who are of Asian and Indigenous American descent. The difference in consistency is due to a specific genotype.


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