Our ENT doctor got this question Hester of Monsjou presented by VICE for the 'I'm Asking This for a Friend' column. You often see it around you, girlfriends, friends or couples who share music earplugs together to listen to music. Not the freshest idea when you think about all the wax on the earbuds. But how dirty is this really?
Earwax has the function of protecting your ear canal. “It protects your ears by blocking out dust and dirt, and it's water-resistant,” says Hester. “Earwax also creates an acidic environment in the ear canal, which is not pleasant for bacteria and also protects you against infections.”
Bacteria from the outside
Yet it is not so hygienic to share music earplugs with others. “First of all, you don't want to remove the right layer of wax and expose the ear canal to external influences, which can be done by putting internal plugs in the ear,” she says. “At the same time, you never know what you are introducing into your ear canal to the other person's bacteria or fungi.”
Chance of infection
According to our ENT doctor, the chance of actually contracting something serious is very small. There is, however, a chance of getting an infection. “There are quite a few bacteria on such a cap that can move easily. That also works with dirty swimming pools, where the bacteria in the water can lead to inflammation in the ear canal.”
You can do it all interview with ENT doctor Hester van Monsjou on the VICE website.