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1.0 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW
Ear wax is normally produced in the ear canal. It is made up of the secretions of specialized sets of glands located in the ear canal. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum. Sebum is mostly a combination of fatty acids. Modified apocrine sweat glands release a secretion that combines with the sebum to form cerumen. This cerumen also picks up discarded cells and hair follicles. It may contain dust or other debris that finds its way into the ear canal from the environment. The resulting compound forms the material referred as earwax (Yassinet al., 1996).Ear wax is a mixture of layer of keratinocytes cells which migrate from the deeper layers of the epidermis and are finally shed from the surface of the skin and are secreted in outer third of the wall of external auditory canal. This forms a greyish-black coloured thick substance, which gets deposited inside the external auditory canal.Secretions from glands and cellsfrom the hair in the canal also mix and forms earwax or cerumen (Deviet al., 2015).
Cerumen or ear wax is produced in the outer third of the cartilaginous portion of the human ear canal. It is composed of peeling sheets of corneocytes, originating from the deep and superficial external auditory canal, mixed with glandular secretions. It’s a mixture of secretions from sebaceous glands and modified apocrine sweat glands (Alvord, 1997).Cerumenous glands in the auditory canal secrete lipids and peptides, respectively. Hairs in the external third of the canal also produce glandular secretions that contribute to cerumen composition (Siriguet al., 1997). The wax produced forms a physiological barrier between the external environment and deep external auditory canal. Chemical composition of wax has also been believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, though this is under controversy, as some authors suggest that wax has rich level of nutrients which aid in microbial growth rather than inhibit it. Others hold a view that wax contains antimicrobial property which prevents external ear from infections (Sumitet al., 2012). There is some evidence of genetic polymorphisms in cerumenphenotype.
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