The available data on the effect of human wet cerumen on bacterial growth are not conclusive. Nevertheless it is widely accepted that cerumen has a bactericidal effect.
In this study the activity of human wet cerumen on bacterial growth was assessed by applying cerumen suspensions to bacterial cultures. Bacterial counts were performed before and after application of cerumen suspensions. A total of 383 assays was carried out with 73 pools of cerumen that were tested against cultures of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium spp., Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens.
An increase in growth occurred much more frequently than a decrease in growth in almost every microrganism tested, with the mean increase percentage being much higher than the mean decrease percentage, except in the case of S. aureus.
The largest average growth increase was obtained with E. coli. The largest average decrease in bacterial growth was recorded with S. marcescens.
Our study does not support the conception of a decrease in bacterial growth produced by humen wet cerumen. In vitro, the most observable effect was in fact an increase in microbial growth.