Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a combination of secretions from sweat glands and fatty materials secreted from sebaceous glands. It can have one of two physical types: a wet yellow-brown wax or a dry white wax. For most people it is just regarded as a horrible bodily substance, but could it actually be more useful.
Our earwax could help prove our identity, reveal information about our ethnicity, sexual orientation, health, what we’ve eaten and even where we’ve been. According to senior author George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at Monell. ‘Our previous research has shown that underarm odors can convey a great deal of information about an individual, including personal identity, gender, sexual orientation, and health status, we think it possible that earwax may contain similar information.’
Researchers theorise that the fatty nature of earwax makes it a likely repository for lipid-soluble odorants produced by certain diseases and the environment. In order to prove this they used analytical organic chemistry to identify the presence of odor-producing chemical compounds in human earwax, which confirmed that the amounts of these compounds differ between individuals. The findings suggest that human earwax, an easily obtained bodily secretion, could be an overlooked source of personal information.
So the future indicates that wax may have a usage, but at the moment it will probably just continue to be a problem for some of our patients. If you suffer from wax problems, we now offer basic earwax removal at Chalfont Hearing Centre. If you have concerns about earwax or hearing hygiene then contact us on 01494 765144.