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Earwax Candle: Does Ear Candling Actually Work?

Earwax Candle: Does Ear Candling Actually Work?

The human body has natural secretions which work to protect against external or foreign bodies. These foreign bodies such as bacteria, viruses, and even dirt can compromise your health. When it comes to the ear, that product is earwax. While cotton buds are most commonly used to remove it, there’s also a new method that’s catching on – with the use of an earwax candle. But does ear candling work? And is it safe?

What is Earwax?

Also known as cerumen, earwax is produced by the body to protect the ears. It also acts as a lubricant and possesses antibacterial qualities. In most cases, if it does not cause blockages, it should be left untouched as it naturally moves out the ear canal.

However, earwax impaction can occur, presenting with the following symptoms: decreased hearing, a feeling of fullness in the ear/s, tinnitus (a ringing in the ear) and changes in hearing aid function for people who wear them. Should this occur, it is important to seek medical help.

What is an Earwax Candle?

This tool is used in a procedure called ear candling, which utilizes a lit, hollow, cone-shaped candle placed into the ear canal. It is marketed by its producers as a treatment for conditions such as earwax buildup, sinus infections, headaches, sore throats, the flu or colds, and even hearing loss.

How does it work? The earwax candle is placed on the outer ear while the patient lies on their side or sits up. The candle is inserted through a hole in the center of a plate, which protects the patient from hot wax or ash falling from the candle. It supposedly works when the warmth from the candle creates a suction that pulls out earwax and other debris from the ear canal.

Does it Really Remove Earwax?

Research shows that using an earwax candle is not actually effective in removing earwax buildup. It can actually do the opposite and cause serious injury to your ear. Earwax can be pushed even further into the ear canal, resulting in candle wax deposits in the ear canal, as well possible burns on the face, hair, scalp, ear canal, eardrum, and middle ear. It may also even puncture the eardrum.

That is why using an earwax candle is not recommended for infants and children of any age. Ear candling puts young kids at risk for injury and complications.

What Can I Do to Safely Remove Earwax?

There are several methods to remove earwax including:

  • Cleaning the outer ear with a cloth
  • Using ear wax-dissolving (cerumenolytic) solutions such as mineral or baby oil, glycerin, peroxide-based ear drops, hydrogen peroxide, and saline solution
  • Irrigation (with solution) and syringing of the ear
  • Removal of earwax by a healthcare professional with special instruments.

Keep in mind that it is important not to over-clean as this can cause ear infections. When cleaning, be sure not to insert pointed objects into the ear which can cause injury or damage.

Key Takeaways

Earwax, or cerumen, is a natural substance that the body produces to protect the ear. Although earwax naturally gets pushed out by the growth of skin cells of the ear canal, impaction can happen.

In this regard, ear candling is not recommended to get rid of earwax buildup because it can actually cause more harm than good. It has not been proven to work, despite being marketed as a cure for a host of conditions such as sinus infections, headaches, and sore throats, to name a few. Instead, it is advisable to remove earwax buildup with cloth, cerumenolytic solutions, or through the assistance of a healthcare professional.

Learn more about Ear Conditions here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Is ear candling a safe way to remove earwax?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/ear-candling/faq-20058212 Accessed March 21, 2021

Do’s and Don’ts of Earwax (Cerumen), https://www.entnet.org/sites/default/files/uploads/PracticeManagement/Resources/_files/cerumen_dos-donts.pdf Accessed March 21, 2021

Don’t Get Burned: Stay Away From Ear Candles, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/dont-get-burned-stay-away-ear-candlesAccessed March 21, 2021

Earwax Buildup & Blockage, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14428-ear-wax-buildup–blockage Accessed March 21, 2021

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Written by Louise Nichole Logarta Updated May 26
Medically reviewed by Diana Rose G. Tolentino, M.D.
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