Uses of Bile Salts, Namely Cholate and Deoxycholate for Earwax Removal

Burkhart Craig G.*, 1, Adappa Vijay2, Burkhart Craig N.3
1 University of Toledo College of Medicine, USA
2 Otolaryngology, St. Vincent’s Mercy and St. Charles Hospitals, USA
3 Department of Dermatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

© 2009 Burkhart et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Toledo School of Medicine, 5600 Monroe Street, Suite 106B, Sylvania, OH 43560, USA; Tel: 419-885-3403; Fax: 419-885-3401;


Detergents are a viable method for earwax removal. Specifically, bile salts such as cholate and deoxycholate, work well for this function especially when placed in alkaline solution provided by sodium phosphate in the presence of 0.1 M sodium chloride. In vitro studies reveal these agents to quickly penetrate earwax, as visualized by yellowish color of the solution and lack of cohesion of the remaining particulate matter. In clinical studies, after a 5 minute application of the bile acids into ten patients’ ears with impacted cerumen, only water irrigation was needed for visibility of the tympanic membrane. Further studies of cholate and dexoxycholate for ear plugs are warranted.