Things are different in some Asian cultures where ear cleaning is more than just a hygiene issue; it is an important part of their history and culture. Many Asian cities feature ear cleaning salons and some even have sidewalk stands offering the procedure.
The person whose ears are being cleaned relaxes and and the ear technician uses the various tools to clean the ears. In shops the technicians uses a bright light or a lighted headband to peer into the ear while performing the procedure. Some people find this treatment pleasurable and even somewhat erotic.
There is a natural process by which the ear evacuates dead skin and wax from the ear canal, so usually there is no real medical reason for a man to clean his ears, but people have been doing it since the dawn of time. Archeologists and cultural anthropologists have documented instruments dating back many thousands of years purportedly used by many peoples and cultures to clean their ear.
Vietnam seems to be really big on ear cleaning where ear cleaning technician dig gunk out of people's head at a barber shop. In fact, the Vietnamese have brought ear cleaning and its tools to a whole new level.
In addition to being routinely practiced at barber shops,you can hire men on street corners to clean your ears for you. But is it safe? According to Dr. Nguyen Quang Dai, Head of the Ear Nose and Throat Department at the French Vietnam Hospital says that poking something more than 4/1000ths (1mm) into your ear could result in lacerated ear canals or worse. He says he has had to reconstruct a few ear drums due to bad ear picking. Also, there's always the risk of infevtion from unsanitary tools being used. Evidently those street corner pickers are not always too concerned with sanitation.
Besides the fact that some people think it makes them hear better, it's also possible that it can become addictive. Our external ears are very sensitive and if picked very gently it feels good.
Here's something you probably didn't know...not all earwax is the same and Asian ear wax is different. People of African or European descent have earwax that is moist and gooey, but roughly 90 percent of Asians have dry flaky earwax. Researchers have found that Asians have a gene mutation that prevents the buildup of wax in the ear, but why is unknown.
They use an ear pick, a small spoon-shaped tool. Other tools include an ear hair shaver to trim hair growing inside the ears. An instrument with a ball head that is used to massage the entire surface of the ear. In Vietnam, it is also used to massage the eyelids.
If the ears have been neglected an excavator can be used to remove a lot of wax, hair and dirt and a feather blade can be used to remove patches of itchy, flaky or dead skin. A down puff is the final touch. The puff is rotated and sweeps the ear's surfaces clean.
If using a Q-tip is too pedestrian, you can buy ear cleaning kits on line for around $30.
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