Much of this conversations stemmed from a Washington Post article written by Roberto A. Ferdman, who explained that Q-Tips, despite the common 'tip' to use them for cleaning your ears, may not be all that beneficial.
Even Q-Tips feel that way. Labels on boxes of Q-Tips instruct buyers to use them for cleaning, arts and crafts or baby care, Ferdman explained. But not for cleaning your ears, specifically with a "do not insert inside the ear canal" warning.
But people use them for that purpose anyway, often causing them to go to the hospital for putting the tip too far inside their ears, which can rupture their ear drums or lead to hearing loss, the Post reported.
"People come in with cotton-swab-related problems all the time," Dennis Fitzgerald, an otolaryngologist in Washington, D.C., told the Post. "Any ear, nose, and throat doctor in the world will tell you they see these all the time. People say they only use them to put makeup on, but we know what else they're using them for. They're putting them inside their ears."
And they're here to stay, Ferdman wrote, since Q-Tips sold for a total of $208.4 million in 2014 — up from the $189.3 million made in 2005.
But they may be making our health worse. As The Huffington Post reported in 2014, researchers and medical professionals found that earwax is actually there to protect your ears, specifically to keep your ear canal clean and keep dust away from the ear drum.
"Not only does earwax help to keep dust and dirt away from the eardrum, it also provides some antibacterial and lubricating perks," The Huffington Post reported. "And — one of the body's many wonders! — your ears basically clean themselves. Once earwax dries, every motion of your jaw, whether that's chowing down on lunch or gabbing away with friends, helps move the old earwax out of the opening of your ear."
In fact, sometimes by using Q-Tips, we're making things worse by pushing earwax deeper into our ears, creating a blockage of wax that may contain fungus, bacteria and other viruses, The Huffington Post reported.
"I repeat: Stop putting Q-Tips in your ears. Have the sages and prophets of old not told you to refrain from sticking Q-Tips into your ears? Indeed, they have," she wrote. "But humankind is willful and foolish, and have continued to stick Q-Tips into their ears. Now we are reaping a whirlwind of ear infections and burst eardrums."
These are only a few of the damages Q-Tips can create. You can watch BuzzFeed's video below to learn more about the benefits of earwax.