Does ear candling work?

Does ear candling work?

Maybe your parents told you it growing up, or even your teachers. Perhaps you have told it to friends or children of your own… After multiple times of trying to get your point across, you exclaim “Clean out your ears!” as a reference to them not listening to what you said. Yet while ear wax buildup can cause hearing issues, cleaning them with certain common methods is not a great idea.

“Don’t use a Q-tip,” says Dr. Randi Luxmore, audiologist at Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “I cannot stress that enough; Q-tips should not be inserted into the ear. The instructions on the box even state that it should not be used for that purpose.” Q-tips, when used to clean the ear, can cause significant damage. For example, if it is inserted too deep within the ear canal, you can rupture an ear drum. Or, the cotton swab at the end of the Q-tip could fall off within the ear and need to be removed by a professional. If it isn’t removed, it could result in an infection.

Another method that is becoming more common is candling. Candling is the act of inserting a candle into the ear and lighting it in hopes of creating negative pressure to draw the wax out of an ear. “Not only is this method not effective, it comes with a host of risks,” says Dr. Luxmore. “Ear candling can cause burns to the face, scalp, ear canal and ear drum. It can also potentially puncture the ear drum.”

There are however, safe and effective ways to remove ear wax from the ear. But if you are having trouble hearing, don’t assume that is it from ear wax buildup. Consult an audiologist to help with hearing or an otolaryngologist if there are larger concerns about pain in your ear. “Talk to a medical professional before you try and clean your ear yourself,” says Dr. Luxmore. “We are here to help identify if there is a larger problem and can provide a solution that is safe and effective.”

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  1. This article reminds me of the commercial where the guy just states the problem but offers no solution. I’ve use Q-tips safely all of my life and I’ve had the candle wax removal before. Obviously you’re just fishing for business in this misleading title. I thought that this site offers some free advice, info or informed medical opinions.

  2. “There are however, safe and effective ways to remove ear wax from the ear.” …what are they????

  3. Odd to say there are safe ways without describing them! What are they?

  4. yes I would like to know too.

  5. Health enews editor September 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm · Reply

    Hi Ronald, the best first step if someone thinks he or she has a wax impaction is to see his or her doctor. The doctor will be able to examine the ear canal and see if the issue is cerumen, or something else. A doctor may recommend at home treatments such as mineral oil or other over the counter wax softeners. These treatments may not be recommended, however, for some patients who have a history of ear infections, PE tubes, or ear drum perforations. That’s why it’s important to visit a physician first. Thanks for reading.

  6. If you need to seek out professional medical opinions on how to clean your ears, then….well….I don’t know what to say to you…

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.