Earwax colour can be surprisingly quite varied. And it can tell a pretty cool story about you. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. So that’s probably the lamest thing you’ve ever heard…
But it’s true! For example, your earwax colour and texture will vary depending on your ethnicity and geographical location. You’ll find dry earwax is ubiquitous in South East Asia and Native Americans, and a brown, sticky earwax is very common amongst Europeans and Africans. Moreover, earwax colour can change due to the environment in which you live, because it will trap particulates in the air. This is a great defence mechanism to protect your eardrum.
What’s it made of?
The composition of earwax is 60% exfoliated skin cells, 12-20% mixture of unsaturated long-chain fatty acids, alcohols (not the kind you drink) and sebum (oily secretion from our sebaceous glands – glands in our skin that secrete oil for lubrication) and 6-9% cholesterol. Also, we have two main types: sticky and dry. And there’s an interesting genetic differential. A certain gene is known to cause this main difference in composition, and it’s called ATP-binding cassette C11 gene.
Earwax colour infographic
A bit of a mouthful, but this gene is responsible for wet earwax, sweat production, and armpit odour! Therefore, if this gene isn’t expressed in the phenotype of the individual, they’ll have dry earwax and no body odour due to less sweat produced. And if the dominant allele is expressed for the gene, it’ll show up in the phenotype of a person. As such, they’ll have sticky earwax, sweat profusely and stinky armpits…
Who knows, maybe there’s an explanation for this phenomenon. It’s could be that Native Americans (who don’t express the gene) would have benefited by naturally producing far less sweat in their cold, harsh winters.
You can read our full set of ear health articles at Honey Gusto.
So, should you wish to have a look at our very own earwax irrigation kit, here it is…
And for an alternative view of the infographic