Is Ear Candling Safe? What Do Audiologists Say?

Ear candling is an alternative therapy sometimes used for removing ear wax and treating sinus infections. Based on pseudoscientific principles, the procedure (also known as thermal auricular therapy or ear coning) is performed to "clean" the ear of wax and toxins. It may also be used to treat other conditions, ranging from tinnitus and swimmer's ear to TMJ disorders and Meniere's disease.

The ear candling procedure involves:

  • Placing a hollow candle into the ear canal.
  • Lighting the open end.
  • Allowing it to burn for about 15 minutes in an attempt to create a low-level vacuum that pulls debris from the ear.

While its practitioners believe it to be therapeutic, healthcare professionals consider it dangerous and ineffective.

What Is the FDA Warning on Ear Candling?

The FDA classifies ear candles as medical devices but disapproves of their safety and effectiveness for medical use. According to Eric Mann, a clinical deputy director at the FDA, "The FDA believes there is no valid scientific evidence for any medical benefit from their use.” The agency has warned consumers against its use and highlighted the potential risks of ear candling.

According to the FDA, ear candling carries a high risk of "potentially severe skin/hair burns and middle ear damage" even if they are used according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

Risks Associated with Ear Candling

Ear candling is linked with potential injuries and risks, including:

  • Burns to your face, ear canal, ear drum, and middle ear
  • Damage to the ear from hot, dripping wax
  • Plugged or burned ear canal caused by candle wax
  • Eardrum puncturing
  • Spreading of fire
  • Secondary ear canal infections
  • Hearing loss

How Do Ear Candles Cause Hearing Loss?

Ear candling can be unsafe and cause severe complications, including hearing loss. Hearing issues may occur due to:

  • Burns from hot candle wax
  • Coating of the eardrum with ash
  • Blockage of the ear canal with candle wax
  • Ear damage leading to secondary ear infections

Can Ear Candling Cause Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is when you hear sounds with no external source, such as ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, and other similar sounds. Any blockage of the ear canals – including blockage caused by candle wax - can cause tinnitus. Additionally, damage to the ear drum, or to the skin inside the ear canal, may contribute to tinnitus.

What Do Audiologists Say About Ear Candling?

The consensus among audiologists is that ear candling is not supported by medical evidence and should not be used as a treatment option. Research shows that ear candling is ineffective in removing wax, and in fact can push ear wax deeper into the ear canal, leading to hearing loss and other ear-related complications.

Additionally, studies of the debris inside the melted candle have shown that it does not contain any traces of ear impurities and only contains candle wax and fabric.

Seek Professional Treatment Instead of Ear Candling.

If you experience hearing or ear-related issues, you should consult an audiologist or medical doctor. While a small amount of ear wax is beneficial, as it forms a protective barrier against dirt and bacteria and moisturizes your ear canal, too much ear wax may result in hearing loss and other issues.

An audiologist or physician can evaluate your ears and recommend safe and effective treatment.

Get Accurate Diagnostic Evaluations for Hearing Loss at Hoffmann Audiology

Hoffmann Audiology is a trusted audiology center for the residents of Irvine and its surrounding areas, including Tustin, Costa Mesa, and Lake Forest. Our team, led by Dr. Chris Hoffmann, a licensed audiologist, provides the full spectrum of diagnostic audiological evaluations and solutions. We are fully committed to offering our patients the highest standards of hearing healthcare.

To schedule a hearing test or learn more about our services, contact us today.


Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.

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