Your earwax can tell you how healthy or sick you are. What color is yours?

As is the case with most bodily fluids, earwax is rarely the topic of casual conversation. But the fact is, this sticky substance is actually very important for our bodies and can tell us a lot about our health. It sounds like a disgusting idea at first, but the next time you clean your ears you should take a close look at what comes out.

The thing that many people don’t know is that earwax isn’t just some kind of dirty buildup in our ears. It’s actually created by our bodies to prevent bacteria and dirt from entering the ear canal, so this sticky gunk actually keeps our ears clean, healthy and functional. The wax itself is a combination of long-chain fatty acids, squalene, and alcohol.

Yet despite how important this substance is, no one wants to see it dripping out of someone’s ear. So when you notice that there’s a bit too much of it in you ear, feel free to take a damp cloth and wash it out. If you choose to use a cotton swab, be sure not to insert it into your ear canal or you run the risk of damaging your eardrum.

Here are some examples of different wax colors and what they mean for your health…

1. Yellow, wet and sticky

This is the most common type of wax for adults. The wet, sticky texture helps to keep the ear canal from drying out and becoming itchy.