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Don’t Get Burned: Stay Away From Ear Candles

This past week I saw a woman in her mid 40s for an audiometric evaluation. She was complaining that after a recent trip she felt as if she had lost some of her hearing. When I checked her ears, I was shocked to see what appeared to be … drippings from a candle?

I asked the patient what happened and she told me that while on vacation in Florida she and her family went to a street fair. One of the booths was promoting ear candling as treatment for a variety of conditions, including ear wax buildup, hearing loss, sinus infections, colds and soar throats. The woman paid $45 to have someone stick a lit candle in her ear to help her ailments.

Having a lit candle in your ear sounds pretty dangerous, right? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Canadian counterpart, Health Canada, think so too and are warning the manufacturers of these devices, issuing injunctions and seizing shipments.

These “candles” – hollow cones that are about 10 inches long and made from a fabric tube soaked in beeswax, paraffin, or a mixture of the two – are being marketed as treatments for numerous health conditions. Marketers of ear candles claim that the warmth created by the lit device produces suction that draws wax and other impurities out of the ear canal.

The FDA believes there is “no valid scientific evidence for any medical benefit” from their use, said Dr. Eric Mann of the agency’s Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices. He adds that some manufacturers claim their products are appropriate for use on small children.

According to Mann and the FDA, ear candling – also called “ear coning” and “thermal auricular therapy” – exposed the recipient to risks such as:

  • Starting a fire
  • Burns to the face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear
  • Injury to the ear from dripping wax
  • Ears plugged by candle wax
  • Bleeding
  • Puncture to the eardrum
  • Delay in seeking needed medical care for underlying conditions such as sinus and ear infections, hearing loss, cancer, and temporomandibular joing (TMJ) disorders. (TMJ disorders often cause headache and painful sensations in the area of the ear, jaw and face).

Ear candling is not a safe or effective way to remove ear wax and debris. In fact, wax is actually beneficial to our ears and body. It protects the ear and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. If you do experience excessive wax you should talk to your doctor about safe wax removal options. Typically these methods will include a visit to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or to an audiologist such as at The Hearing Professionals.

About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at

3 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on perceptualaudio and commented:
    It is no small wonder that certain dubious complementary therapies remain popular in the UK in spite of the lack of any clinical evidence in support of their efficacy, when supposedly reputable companies like Boots prominently stock homeopathic pills and flower remedies in view of their pharmacy counters. However, I have never understood why anyone would wish to undergo ear candling. Sticking lighted wax candles into ones ears sounds like a form of medieival torture, yet people continue to do it – and in some cases suffer the consequences, as this post points out.

  2. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor. While there are different types of ear infections, the most common is called otitis media, which means an inflammation and infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is located just behind the eardrum.;

  3. Who would have thought you could get hurt from candling? I guess it’s more like “magic” than I had thought. What you say makes good sense and I’m not going to put myself in harms way. Thank you for the information.


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