It might not be what you think. We all know that we have to protect our children against taking medicines… but have you thought about what else is in the bathroom that may cause harm? Cotton swabs. That’s right!

Each year, thousands of children have to go to the ER for injuries from cotton swabs. Crazy, right? It averages out to 34 per day!  It usually happens when someone is trying to clean out their ear canals from wax. Ear, nose and throat specialists say that not only is that not necessary but it can actually push the wax deeper, closer to the ear drum and worsen the problem. While trying to clean the ears, the cotton swab can be pushed to deep and cause, at times, severe damage to the canal. In most cases (77%) the child was attempting to clean their own ears but in 16% of cases, a parent inadvertently caused the injury.

About 10% of injuries occurred while playing with the cotton swabs and 9% of injuries were sustained from falling when the cotton swab was inserted in the ear…causing it to penetrate deeper than intended. Two thirds of the children were under age 8 and the injuries ranged from soft tissue injury to perforation of the ear drum.  Who would have guessed?

Dr. Badaracco