Is ear candling a safe way to remove earwax?
Answers from Charles W. Beatty, M.D.
Ear candling — a technique that involves placing a lit, hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal — can cause serious injury and isn't considered an effective treatment for any condition.
The theory behind ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal auricular therapy, is that the heat from the flame will create suction that draws the earwax into the hollow candle. Ear candling has also been touted as a treatment for sinus infections and as a way to improve hearing.
Research shows, however, that ear candling is ineffective at removing earwax. In fact, the technique can actually push earwax deeper into the ear canal. Ear candling can also lead to:
- Deposits of candle wax in the ear canal
- Burns to the face, hair, scalp, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear
- Puncture of the eardrum
If you develop an earwax blockage, avoid ear candling. Instead, consult your doctor about simple steps you can take to safely and effectively remove the wax.
Charles W. Beatty, M.D.
July 10, 2012
- Don't get burned: Stay away from ear candles. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm200277.htm. Accessed April 5, 2012.
- Rafferty J, et al. Ear candling: Should general practitioners recommend it? Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53:2121.
- Earwax. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/earwax.cfm. Accessed April 5, 2012.
- Ernst E, et al. Ear candles: A triumph of ignorance over science. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology. 2004;118:1.