How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear


Children tend to put foreign objects in their ears out of curiosity, or simply by accident. Your child may get objects like food, buttons, toys, and insects in their ear. In most cases, children should be taken to the doctor for removal. If you are unable to get to a doctor, you can try using tweezers or gravity to remove the object. You can also apply water or oil to your child’s ear to get the object out. If your child is in pain or there is blood coming from the ear, seek medical attention right away.

Part 1
Using Tweezers and Gravity

Using Tweezers and Gravity on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Get up close to your child’s ear to look at the object. Use a flashlight to see the object better in their ear. Check if you can see the object sitting in their ear with the naked eye. If so, you may be able to extract it with tweezers or by using gravity.[1] Do not stick cotton swabs, a matchstick, or any other items into the ear to poke at the object. If you cannot see the object at all, or if the object appears to be deeply lodged in your child’s ear, you should seek medical care immediately. Additionally, seek medical care immediately if your child has a battery or a sharp object in their ear. The doctor will have the proper tools to extract the object without damage.

Using Tweezers and Gravity on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Use clean household tweezers with dulled tips. Rinse them off in warm water or soak them in water to sanitize them before use. You can also clean them with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide if you have it.

Using Tweezers and Gravity on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Carefully insert the tweezers into your child’s ear and grasp the object. Grab at a rough part of the object so it easy to hold. Then, gently slide the item out of your child’s ear.[2] During the removal, soothe your child and ensure them it will not hurt. You can also give them a toy or food to distract them. If the object does not slide out when you grasp it with the tweezers, do not try to tug or pull at it. Instead, go see a doctor right away. If the object slides further down into your child’s ear, go see a doctor immediately.

Using Tweezers and Gravity on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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If the object is not deeply lodged in your child’s ear, you may be able to use gravity to get it out. Tilt your child’s head to one side, with the affected ear facing the ground. Then, gently shake or tap your child’s head. The object may fall out on its own.[3] If the object does not fall out on its own, seek professional medical care to remove the object.

Part 2
Applying Water or Oil to the Ear

Applying Water or Oil to the Ear on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Another option is to use water to flush out the object in your child’s ear. Get a bulb syringe made for ears and a bowl of warm water. The bulb syringe will allow you to insert water into your child’s ear safely.[4] You can find bulb ear syringes at your local drugstore or online. If there is any pain, bleeding, or discharge from the ear, do not apply water or oil. This may indicate a more severe condition, like a punctured eardrum. Seek professional medical care instead. If your child has ear tubes or grommets, do not use water or oil to remove the object. If you cannot remove the object with tweezers, seek professional medical care.

Applying Water or Oil to the Ear on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Fill the bulb syringe with warm water. Then, tilt your child’s head in your lap with the affected ear facing upward. Insert the syringe into your child’s ear and press down on the plunger to release the water. Then, turn your child’s head downward so the water and the object can slide out of their ear.[5] You may have to flush your child’s ear a few times to dislodge the item. If you have flushed their ear several times and the item does not come out, seek professional medical care.

Applying Water or Oil to the Ear on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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If there is an insect stuck in your child’s ear, you can use baby oil or mineral oil to try to float it out. Heat the oil so it is warm, but not hot.[6] Do not use the oil to remove any other objects besides an insect. Again, you should avoid using oil if you suspect your child has a more severe condition, like a punctured eardrum, or if they have ear tubes.

Applying Water or Oil to the Ear on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Tilt your child’s head so the affected ear is facing upward. Pour a tablespoon of oil slowly into your child’s ear. Pull their earlobe back and downward to help ease the oil into the ear.[7] The insect should then suffocate and float out of your child’s ear with the help of the oil.

Part 3
Bringing the Child to the Doctor

Bringing the Child to the Doctor on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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The doctor will start by using medical tools to examine your child’s ear and identify the object in the ear. They may also ask you or your child to describe any other symptoms they are experiencing, such as pain, irritation, liquid coming from the ear, or difficulty hearing.[8] In some cases, if the object is deeply embedded in the ear, the doctor may have to do an X-ray to identify the object and determine how to remove it.

Bringing the Child to the Doctor on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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Depending on the object in your child’s ear, the doctor may try cleaning the ear canal with water or using a machine with suction to pull out the object. They may also insert medical instruments in the ear to remove the object or use magnets if the object is metal.[9] Once the object has been removed, they will check for any injury to the ear canal. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotic drops to treat or prevent infection or to ease irritation.

Bringing the Child to the Doctor on How to Remove Something Stuck in a Child's Ear

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If you notice your child’s hearing has been affected or the ear is not healing properly, follow up with the doctor. They may perform more tests on your child’s to determine if there is internal damage or injury to the ear.