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Getty ImagesQ: How bad is it really to stick a cotton swab in my ear?

A: We know, it feels so good to get in there! But cotton swabs are meant for use on the outside of your ear, not the inside. Sticking one in too far can push wax deeper inside the ear canal, possibly damaging the eardrum. And a little wax is actually healthy—it helps protect your sensitive ear canal.

If your ears are feeling really clogged up, see your doctor, who can suggest ear drops to use at home, or safely remove blockage for you.