Dictionary > Earwax


The waxy secretion within the external meatus of the ear
The ear canal is shaped somewhat like an hourglass. The skin on the outer part of the canal has special glands that produce earwax. The earwax is the waxy secretion in the ear canal. It is typically brownish yellow and soft. The purpose of this natural wax is to act as a lubricant. It repels water and traps dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, and then dries up and falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles.
The earwax is made up mainly of shed skin cells and hair as well as keratin, long chain fatty acids, alcohols, squalene, and cholesterol. It is derived from the secretions of the ceruminous and the sebaceous glands of the outside ear canal. The earwax is helpful in normal amounts and serves to coat the skin of the ear canal where it acts as a temporary water repellent. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even infection. Too much earwax though may become compacted and block the ear canal and thereby cause hearing loss.
There are two main types of earwax: the wet type and the dry type. The type of earwax is genetically determined. The wet type is a dominant trait. Wet earwax is due to the higher concentration of lipids and pigment granules.

  • ear wax


  • cerumen
  • See also:

    You will also like...

    Psychiatry and mental disorders
    Psychiatry & Mental Disorders

    Different mental disorders are described here. Read this tutorial to get an overview of schizophrenia, affective mood di..

    Lentic community
    Freshwater Communities & Lentic Waters

    Lentic or still water communities can vary greatly in appearance -- from a small temporary puddle to a large lake. The s..

    Evolution of Life - Ancient Earth
    Evolution of Life – Ancient Earth

    Autotrophs flourished, absorbing carbon and light. Soon after, primitive life forms that could assimilate oxygen thrived..

    Direct and indirect physiologic effects of growth hormone
    Animal Growth Hormones

    Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands of animals. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus are the most impor..

    Endemic Flora of New Zealand
    New Zealand’s Unique Flora

    If New Zealand has lots of unique animals, it's also got a whole lot of unique plants. Find out more about some of them,..

    A chart depicting Mendel's Law of Dominance
    Mendel’s Law & Mendelian Genetics

    One of Mendel’s law of inheritance is the “law of dominance”. Read this tutorial to know more about this form of i..