Ear Candling: Does it really remove ear wax? 

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Ear candling has been associated with ear injuries, causing more harm than good and there is zero evidence that it actually works. If you have a build up of ear wax, you should consult a professional.

Ear candling, also known as hopi candling or ear coning, is an alternative medicine practice. This practice claims to remove wax and improve general health via a hollow candle that is placed in the ear and is then lit at the other end. However, studies show this isn’t the case and that it is actually ineffective and dangerous.

The safest way to remove ear wax is through micro suction from an ear care specialist, which quickly and safely removes ear wax using a small suction tool. If you think you’re suffering from ear wax blockages, book an appointment for safe and pain free ear wax removal at one of our hearing care centres in the South East.

Ear candling is not safe or effective

It’s important to know that ear candling is neither safe nor effective in promoting ear health. Ear candling involves inserting a hollow, cone-shaped candle which is 10 inches long into the ear canal and lighting it on fire, with the intention of creating a vacuum effect to remove earwax and other impurities. However, this practice is not supported by scientific evidence and poses several potential risks.

First and foremost, the process of ear candling is inherently dangerous. The open flame near the ear can easily cause serious burns to the face, skin, hair, or even the delicate structures within the ear. Additionally, the melted wax and ash from the candle can fall into the ear canal, potentially leading to blockages or further irritation.

Moreover, ear candling does not effectively remove earwax or provide any therapeutic benefits. The claimed “vacuum” effect is largely a myth, as studies have demonstrated that the candle does not create enough suction to remove ear wax effectively. In fact, the heat generated by the candle can melt the earwax, making it harder to remove and potentially causing it to further block the ear canal.

For safe and effective earwax removal, we strongly recommend seeking professional help from an audiologist. We have the necessary expertise and tools to safely clean the ears and address any underlying issues. Methods such as irrigation or microsuction by a trained professional are proven to be much more successful in removing excessive earwax without causing harm.

It’s essential to prioritise the health and safety of your ears. If you are experiencing symptoms like earwax buildup, earache, or decreased hearing, consult an audiologist who can provide appropriate and evidence-based care. We will assess your condition, determine the best course of action, and ensure your ear health is maintained without any unnecessary risks.

What are the dangers of ear candling?

A survey conducted in the UK notes that otolaryngologists reported treating injuries from ear candling. These injuries included:

  • burns
  • ear canal occlusions
  • eardrum perforations
  • secondary ear canal infections, with temporary hearing loss

The hearing charity Action on Hearing Loss also cautions against using ear candles. It says medical research has shown that ear candling is “both dangerous and ineffective”. The group says it does not help to remove ear wax and may result in serious injury.

In addition to the injuries mentioned above, there are several other dangers associated with ear candling:

Fire hazards: Ear candling involves an open flame near the head, which increases the risk of accidental fires. If the person undergoing the procedure moves suddenly or the candle is not properly extinguished, it can ignite nearby objects or clothing.

Wax blockage and impaction: Instead of removing ear wax, ear candling can push the wax deeper into the ear canal, leading to blockages or impactions. This can cause discomfort, hearing loss, and even increase the risk of ear infections. Alternatively, you may find the candle wax, or the paraffin or beeswax on the candle may drip into your ear causing burns and further blockage.

Perforation of the eardrum: The insertion of the candle into the ear canal can cause trauma and potentially puncture or perforate the eardrum. This can result in severe pain, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other complications that may require medical intervention.

Infections: The melting wax and residue from the candle can enter the ear canal, promoting the growth of bacteria and fungi. This can lead to secondary ear canal infections, causing symptoms such as pain, discharge, and temporary hearing loss.

False sense of cleanliness: Despite claims that ear candling helps remove ear wax, there is no scientific evidence to support this. In fact, the process can leave behind residue and debris, creating a false sense of cleanliness while potentially causing harm.

It is important to note that ear candling is not recognised as a safe or effective medical treatment by reputable healthcare professionals. If you are experiencing earwax buildup or any other ear-related concerns, it is best to book an appointment with us today.

Commonly Asked Questions 

What is removed from ear candling?

During ear candling, it is believed that a hollow candle is inserted into the ear canal, and when it is lit, it creates a vacuum effect. Proponents of ear candling suggest that this vacuum effect removes earwax, debris, and toxins from the ear canal. However, scientific evidence does not support the effectiveness of ear candling, and studies have shown that no significant amount of earwax or debris is removed through this practice.

Is ear wax removal better than ear candling?

The efficacy and safety of ear candling as a method of ear wax removal have been widely debated. Ear candling involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal and lighting it. Proponents of ear candling claim that it creates a vacuum that draws out ear wax and impurities. However, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.

In contrast, ear wax removal conducted by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or audiologist, is generally considered a safer and more effective method. Professionals have the knowledge and tools to properly examine the ear canal and remove excess ear wax with techniques such as irrigation or suction. We can also ensure that the procedure is performed without causing any damage to the ear.

It is important to note that attempting to remove ear wax at home using objects like cotton buds or other improvised tools can be dangerous and may push the wax deeper into the ear canal, potentially causing injury or impaction.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to ear wax buildup, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.

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Can Olive Oil Remove Wax or Treat an Ear Infection?

While olive oil is commonly used for various purposes, it is important to note that it is not a proven remedy for removing wax or treating ear infections. 

1. Removing wax: Olive oil can be used as a natural earwax softener. It may help soften the earwax, making it easier to remove. However, it is not effective for removing large or impacted wax deposits. If you have excessive earwax or a blockage, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment options.

2. Treating ear infections: Ear infections are typically caused by bacteria or viruses, and they require proper medical attention for effective treatment. While olive oil may have some antibacterial properties, it is not a reliable or recommended treatment for ear infections. Prompt medical evaluation and appropriate medication are necessary to treat ear infections safely and effectively.

We advise that you stick to over-the-counter ear drops, or see an audiologist.

If you have an ear infection, please book an appointment with your GP, or if you feel like your ears are blocked, book an appointment with an audiologist.

How can I remove ear wax safely?

If you try to remove ear wax yourself, you risk damaging your ears and hearing. If you’re looking for a safer method of ear cleaning, then find out more about microsuction, a safe and non-invasive form of wax removal using a gentle vacuum procedure.

Microsuction is available at all of our clinics and is performed by our qualified audiologists, who will talk you through any procedure to put your mind at ease. We use the very best equipment to ensure your comfort and safety. Carefully explaining what we are doing every step of the way.

Do your ears feel clogged?

If you think you have a wax blockage in one, or both, of your ears, book an appointment at one of our clinics for safe and effective ear wax removal.