Earwax or cerumen serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties. The wax and skin cells move from the eardrum to the ear opening where it usually dries and falls out. Because this wax is not formed in the deep part of the ear canal near the eardrum, blockage of the drum occurs most often because of probing with objects such as Q tips which only push the wax in deeper. Ideally, the ear canals should never have to be cleaned, however sometimes enough cerumen accumulates to cause symptoms such as partial hearing loss, fullness in the ear, ringing or itching. An otolaryngologist may prescribe ear drops to soften the wax or may need to wash or vacuum it out.