The last of India's street ear-cleaners

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[germophobia intensifies]


A friend who worked at the Strand book store in lower Manhattan where the workers are represented by United Auto Workers said his co-worker went to the union hall to have his ears cleaned and liked it.

Finding a way to get tourists interested in a traditional ear cleaning experience could help these guys. I might pay $5 - $10 to try this and tip 25 percent.

If you want to descend down a hole of internet grossness, start looking at the videos posted by Indian ENT docs…
NSFA (not safe for anybody)


I don’t know whether we want to find a way to get tourists interested in these guys. As I understand it there has been a concerted effort to make the local populace disinterested in them. IIRC they’ve kind of been a public health menace. Providing an unnecessary but unsanitary, and potentially ear drum puncturing, service and selling bunk remedies and sketchy mystic advice.


In the early 90s when I lived in Japan, one of my friends was given a tiny little spoon with a long handle as a gift - it was an ear cleaning spoon - we were all grossed out over the idea, but it seems that it is a common thing for couples to clean each others ears. Also, I was told that Japanese and maybe other Asian people have a slightly different kind of ear wax than say Europeans (can’t remember if it was drier or not, but not sure if I believe that anyway).

Don’t think I’d trust any street ear cleaner myself. I do feel the need every once in a while (especially after swimming or snorkeling and such) to take flush out my ears with warm water and one of those squeezable rubber ear syringes. It may take a few minutes but eventually a pencil eraser side wax plug pops out (sometimes it gets dissolved in pieces) and my hearing is much better. I doubt that any of those ear cleaners would do that.

(Once, after scuba diving in Thailand I went to a clinic to have the impacted ear wax flushed out, again it was just warm water and an ear syringe).

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Well, I got through the whole thing! Pretty amazing, actually, especially the climactic ending. But, now I’m not hungry for lunch anymore.


Did he leave that last little cotton dipped in whatever inside the ear???

“Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.”

And wearing earbuds or earplugs a lot can cause a problem (though AFAIK, it hasn’t for me).

The main message: Earwax “has a physiological function, and unless there’s a reason to remove it, you should just leave it alone. It’s OK.”

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Wiki has an entry on Cerumen (earwax). Interesting read. Those who use a curette properly only gently press against the middle ear canal and definitely stay away from the eardrum region – or anything beyond where the canal makes a dogleg.

Maybe BoingBoing can do a COOL TOOLS review on the Coden Ear Scope

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…whelp, that’s enough internet for me today.


[quote=“petr, post:6, topic:61159”]
Also, I was told that Japanese and maybe other Asian people have a slightly different kind of ear wax than say Europeans (can’t remember if it was drier or not, but not sure if I believe that anyway).[/quote]

Yup. It’s true.

My adopted-from-China nieces need to have their ear wax cleaned out now and then. Drier and chunkier. They go to an ear doctor; wouldn’t surprise me that the Japanese came up with a custom to deal with it at home.

I understand that Native Americans have yet a third consistency.

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I usually don’t have problems with wax buildup, and generally follow my mother’s rule about putting things in your ear: “The only thing you should put in your ear is your own elbow. And only after you’ve wrapped your winter coat around it…”

I did get an impacted cerumen a few months ago for the first time ever. I flushed it out myself with body temperature water and an ear syringe.

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Here’s a link to the LA Times story. I didn’t see it in the Boing Boing post.

And yet there is often enough a reason to remove it, that docs have equipment to do so (and, of course, charge for the service).

I think it’s more like “most people don’t have problems with earwax,” but it seems to be a regular issue for others, including myself. I need a cleaning once or twice a year, and of course this gets sucked into the Medical Bureaucracy of Hell.

It’s really vacuous advice when you think about it. “Leave it alone unless it’s a problem.” Well, yeah, but it IS a problem for some people. Maybe I wouldn’t get it done by a guy on the streets of Calcutta, but a Genuine ENT seems like overkill for such a trivial procedure.

I understand the concerns, but it seems a bit paternalistic, especially when the need for this procedure varies by ancestry.


well that filled my gross quota for the day.

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@redesigned @milliefink @Spieguh, you really can’t call it a day unless you made it to at least one that features maggots…


i’m glad i already finished my sushi…

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Oh lordy, thank you for not posting one of those right before bedtime.

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