We are constantly told to be careful with cotton buds, and to use them to clean the outside of the ear - rather then popping one into the old ear canal, right? 


However, sometimes it can be extremely tempting to swirl the 'Q Tip' inside the ear, and we're pretty much all guilty of doing this. 


Well, while you are free to make decisions regarding your own ears, we are here to strong recommend that you take care with your little one's ears when it comes to cotton buds.


New research published in the Journal of Pediatrics has reported that between 1990 and 2010, approximately 263,338 children under the age of 18 were treated for ear-injuries sustained by cotton bud use - which, when broken down, works out to around 34 per day.


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A number of the cases were documented, with the circumstances leading to the injuries. The report outlined that 73.2 percent of cotton bud associated injuries were associated with cleaning, while 9.7 percent were associated with playing.


Worryingly, more than two-thirds of the injuries occurred in kids under eight years old, and in children under the age of four, a parent handled the cotton bud in almost 80 per cent of ear cleaning-related injuries - so please, be careful. 


"Nearly all of the patients with CTA (cotton-tip applicator) related ear injuries were treated and released, but this does not imply that some of the injuries were not serious," the authors said within the report


The real question is, why are so many children being injured by cotton buds?


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"There is a misconception among the general public that the ear canal requires regular cleaning and that CTAs are good products for that purpose. Contrary to public belief, cerumen (earwax) is beneficial for the ear, and the ear has a natural mechanism for self-cleaning." 


It should be noted that the rate of injury did decrease by 25 percent from 2001 to 2010, and the authors highlighted that more than 12,000 children still received treatment for cotton bud-related ear injuries in 2010.


The researchers also acknowledged that while most cotton bud companies now include warning labels on their packages, they do not appear to be mandatory. Even so, they argue, "it is insufficient to prevent injuries. 


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The authors of the report instructed new mothers to avoid using cotton buds in their newborn's ears when discharged from hospital. Also, they suggest that proper storage is the key to prevent injury, keeping buds away from the reach of children.


"While the number of overall injuries from cotton tip applicators did decrease during the 21 years we looked at in our study, it is still unacceptably high," Dr Kris Jatana, the lead author, said in a statement.


"These products may seem harmless, but this study shows how important it is that they not be used to clean ears."