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Ear pick


Ear picks, also called ear scoops, ear spoons, or auriscalpium, are a type of curette used to clean the ear canal of ear wax (cerumen). These are traditionally made from bamboo or precious metals such as silver or gold but now also from stainless steel or plastic.



Other than the wide variety of materials used to make them, earpicks vary widely in their tips and embellishments. Disposable plastic ear picks with a cotton swab at one end are increasingly popular.


  • Ladle: The traditional and most commonly seen type of tip for the ear pick. They consist of a tiny (2-5 mm) spoon or spatula that is used to scrape and scoop out ear wax.
  • Wire loops: Tips made of multiple small and bent semi-nested loops of wire. The loops scrape and dislodge ear wax, which is then lodged in between the loops of wire. Due to the flexibility of the wire, it is said that this type of tip is less likely to cause damage to the ear canal if used with too much pressure. This tip does not function well in removing wet-type ear wax. A variation of this are wire loops twisted into a spiral, similar in shape to the tips of cotton swabs.
  • Disks: Multiple circular disks, typically three, extend as hoops out from a thin cylindrical shaft. Disk tips are said to be more efficient at removing ear wax since the circumference of the ear canal can be cleaned without having to rotate the tip.


  • Down puff: A ball or "puff" of goose down is located at the opposite end of the ear pick away from the tip. This is used to clean out tiny specks of flaky ear wax on the outer ear that may have broken off during the process of ear cleaning.
  • Safety Stop: A means of preventing deep insertion into ear canal to prevent ear drum injury.
  • Illumination: A light bulb or LED shines light through the clear plastic tip (usually a Ladle type) of the ear pick to illuminate the inside of the ear canal, which eases ear cleaning.
  • Figurines: A plastic or wooden figure, such as a small Daruma or cartoon characters are placed at the opposite end of the tip. They exist mainly to enhance the aesthetics of the ear pick.
  • Toothpick: Some earpicks end with a pointed tail, which is used as a toothpick. This design is common in Chinese and old European earpicks.


Ear picks are a commonly used item and preferred for ear wax removal in East Asia. The person having their ears cleaned would lie down with their head in the lap of the person doing the cleaning. It is generally considered a pleasant feeling, like having one's back scratched. The cleaning of ears is thus considered an act of intimacy, often performed by a mother to a child or, among adults, by one's lover. It may also be performed alone or by professional (non-medical) ear cleaners on the streets of cities in countries such as China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.

(Note: The above text is disputed. Some residents of East Asia believe that ear cleaning is most commonly done by oneself using an ear pick, and not by asking someone else to do it.)


The practice of ear picking poses several serious health hazards to the human ear. The most obvious danger is that of accidentally puncturing the ear drum while ear picking.

Apart from the danger of punctured ear drum, there is also the possibility of ear infection from the usage of unsterilized ear picks, especially when ear picks are shared among different individuals.

Ear picks may also be ineffective and dangerous when used by one with little experience or guidance. Although some wax is seen when the pick is removed from the ear, the majority of the wax may have been pushed deeper into the ear due to the "ram-rod effect" of incorrect technique. This is also true of cotton swabs.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ear_pick". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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