Earwax, also called cerumen, is a sticky substance made by the wax glands in the ear canal, which separates the outer ear from the inner ear. Our bodies produce earwax naturally with the purpose of protecting our ears from foreign substances. Earwax traps dirt, dust, and bacteria before they reach the inner ear, moving it out of ear canal. It contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal components to stop these bugs from growing in our ears. Earwax also keeps the ear canal from drying out.
But not all of us make the same type of earwax. There are two main types of earwax – wet and dry. Wet earwax is sticky and has a yellowish brown to dark color. It consists of more fat (~50%) than dry earwax, which has less than 20% fat. Dry earwax tends to be crumbly and grey to tan in color. Studies have linked certain ethnicities to earwax type.
Take this test to find out whether you are more likely to make wet or dry earwax based on your DNA.
Earwax type is controlled by a genetic variant in the ABCC11 gene. This gene produces a transporter protein found on the surface of cells responsible for moving molecules into cells.
People with at least one copy of the normal (dominant version) of the ABCC11 gene make sufficient amounts of the transporter protein and have wet, sticky, darker colored earwax. Those who carry two copies of the variant (recessive allele) produce a transporter protein that is broken down faster. Reduced levels of the transporter protein is associated with dry, flaky, lighter colored earwax.
Best Ways to Deal with Earwax
Earwax serves an important purpose, as it protects the delicate structures of our inner ears (which controls our hearing and balance) from being exposed to foreign substances.
- Use a wet cloth to wipe and wash the outside of the ear
- A few drops of oil in the ear before bed can help dislodge extra earwax
- If your hearing is bothering due to excessive earwax, see your doctor
- Do not use cotton swabs or any other methods to clean wax out of your ear canal
How It Works
Step 1: Sign up for a free DNA Access account.
Step 2: Upload your DNA markers to DNA Access.
Step 3: Log in to your account to access your results when they are ready.