Ear wax: A natural wax-like substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels water, and traps dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, and then dries up and falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles. Ear wax is helpful in normal amounts and serves to coat the skin of the ear canal where it acts as a temporary water repellent. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even infection.
There are two types of ear wax: wet and dry. Most whites and blacks have the wet type while most Asians and Native Americans have the dry type. The gene for wet ear wax on chromosome 16 appears to predispose to breast cancer.