Ear candling has been around for some time now and is thought of as an alternative to some traditional methods of ear wax removal, like syringing. Ear candle wax removal might be sold as a relaxing way to clear out an ear wax build-up, but is it actually any good? This guide delves into ear candles, with answers to the questions you want to know.
What Is Ear Candling?
Ear candling is a procedure used to loosen debris in the ear and bring it out. The ear candle is put into the ear and lit and earwax is drawn out. Ear candles are usually about 10” long and are cone shaped, with the thinner end being put into the ear. They are most often made of cotton and then soaked in beeswax or paraffin. Ear candles are hollow so that any wax can travel up into the candle when it is drawn from the ear.
Ear candling has actually been practised for many years and dates back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. It was brought to Western countries by the Native American Hopi Indian Tribe, which is why ear candles are often referred to as ‘hopi ear candles’. The tribe were known for their healing, and ear candling is seen as a more natural and less medical way to remove ear wax build-up.
Ear candling is often performed at spas or salons. There is no scientific evidence to say that ear candling works and so it is not a procedure offered by healthcare professionals. You can also buy ear candles to use at home, which is highly advised against.
How Do Ear Candles Work?
It is not completely understood how ear candle wax removal actually works, but the reasoning is that there are three main factors:
- Shape – the cone shape of the candle acts like a chimney, creating a gentle suction that pulls out ear wax
- Vibration – the light vibration from the flame is believed to have a massaging effect on the ear wax that helps to loosen it before it is pulled into the candle
- Heat – the candles produce a mild heat, which is thought to stimulate circulation and help with any drainage from the sinuses
As ear candle wax removal is not an exact science and not recommended by doctors or ear care specialists, most of the thinking behind how ear candles work is anecdotal.
Does Ear Candling Work?
Although some people who have had ear candling treatments believed it to be effective, there is no real evidence to say they work at all. Ear candling is an ancient practice and is not performed by medical professionals. This is because doctors or ear care specialists prefer to use ear wax removal methods, like microsuction, that have been tried and tested correctly and have been shown to be effective and safe.
Ear candles are said to draw out ear wax which you can then see in the candle once the treatment has finished. The debris that you see in the candle is far more likely to be residue from the beeswax or paraffin that covers the candle. One study in fact showed that candle wax is deposited inside the ear during ear candle procedures, and no wax is removed at all.
Are Ear Candles Safe?
Ear candle wax removal is not regulated and so can be done by anyone. For this reason, and many others, ear candles are not safe and can even lead to serious injury. Potential injuries include:
- Candle wax blocking the ear
- Burns to the ear or the face
- Ear infections
- Perforated ear drums
- Hearing loss
Ear candles involve inserting something into the ear. This is something ear specialists strongly advise against as it can cause tears leading to infections or, in the worst cases, the ear candle can puncture the eardrum. Ear wax is very normal and our body produces it for a reason. We only need to be concerned when there is a build up of ear wax and, in this case, it should be removed safely by an expert.
Ear Candle Wax Removal At Home
You can even buy ear wax candles to use at home. This is very strongly advised against. The idea with ear candling is that you lie down on your side to let the ear wax candle draw up the ear wax. If you are doing this yourself, you have limited visibility while holding a lit flame. You are also in danger of putting the candle much too far down into the ear. Even if someone does it for you, they will have little to no experience, meaning the likelihood of injury is increased.
Ear Candles vs Microsuction
If you are concerned about a build-up of ear wax, or simply want to maintain good ear health, then you need a safe and reliable way to remove ear wax. Ear candling is not a safe treatment and has a number of risks associated with it. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest it actually removes ear wax at all and may, in fact, deposit candle wax into the ear canal. This is why ear wax removal using ear candles is not recommended and should be avoided.
Microsuction is a gold standard of ear wax removal that is performed by ear care professionals that are accredited and affiliated with trusted organisations like the NHS and ENT UK. Microsuction is safe and incredibly effective at removing excess ear wax. It can be done in under an hour with no downtime needed. Using a tiny microscope and a suction tube, a microsuction specialist is able to see exactly what they are doing and how much wax they need to remove.
With a trusted network of five clinics, Ear Care Clinic specialises in microsuction and ear wax removal in London. You do not need to spend weeks putting ear drops in your ears and can even be seen on the same day if there is space available. Contact us if you want to know more or book an appointment now.