Earwax is secreted by modified sweat glands in the outer ear canal. Its job is to clean the ear canal and protect it against infection. Dust, bacterial and fungal spores, as well as dead skin cells are carried out of the ear by the constant production of this fatty secretion. Earwax also contains antibacterial ingredients and bitter substances to deter small insects from entering the ear. To maintain the protective function of earwax, you should not try to remove it with soap or cotton buds. Nevertheless, an excessive build-up of earwax can cause a blockage of the auditory canal, leading to temporary hearing loss.
Just one single gene decides whether earwax is wet or dry. In Europe and Africa the wet variety is far the most common.