As we’ve mentioned, earwax will not look the same for everyone. But generally speaking, it should range from yellow and orange to a light brown colour. If your earwax varies from this spectrum, read on to find out the possible causes.
Very dark, or even black, earwax is a common sign of oxidisation. Put simply, this just means that black earwax has been in the ear too long and has been exposed to the air and is subject to natural bacterial fermentation.
Finding black earwax can be a concern, but it’s nothing to worry about. For people using hearing aids, black earwax is a common occurrence.
Red earwax is usually a sign that there is blood present in the ear. As the ear canal contains many blood vessels, it could be just a scratch. However, it could also be a sign of an ear infection.
If you have naturally dark earwax it can be hard to tell whether there’s any blood present. In this case, just put some earwax on a tissue and squeeze. You should then see the underlying colour more easily.
If you’re concerned about blood in your earwax, you should get your ears checked by an audiologist.
As ear trauma or a ruptured eardrum are other possible causes of red earwax, we strongly suggest you seek medical advice if the problem persists, especially if you also feel dizzy or experience hearing loss.
White or very light earwax
The cause of very light or even white earwax is most probably down to the fact that it contains skin picked up from a dry and flaky ear canal. People with skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, often have earwax of this colour.
If there’s green earwax present in your ear it’s usually a sign of an infection, most probably a middle ear infection, especially if this green discharge is accompanied by an unpleasant smell.
To check if your green earwax is caused by an infection, make an appointment with your GP, who will probably treat it with antibiotic ear drops or a course of oral antibiotics.