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Many people these days are trying to unclog their ears and cure their ear aches with ear candles. The idea behind ear candles is that, when you stick a conical-shaped candle in your ear, lay on your side, and light the exposed end, the flame will draw the impurities and wax out of your ears, and you will be able to hear better.

But, as you might suspect with a procedure that involves lighting fire very close to your face, there are serious risks involved. In fact, the FDA is advising people not to use ear candles, due to the high risk for serious injury that they can pose. Some of these risks include:

  • fire

  • burns to the face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear

  • injury to the ear from dripping wax

  • plugging of the ears by candle wax

  • bleeding

  • perforation of the eardrum

  • delay in seeking needed medical care for an underlying condition

FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles. And a survey of ear, nose and throat physicians published in 1996 in the medical journal Laryngoscope reported 13 cases of burns of the ear, seven cases of wax occlusion of the ear canal, and one case of a perforated eardrum. The authors of this study also reported that the burning ear candles dripped candle wax on the eardrum of the test subjects and in a model of the ear.

The kicker? While the manufacturers of ear candles claim that their products do everything from removing impurities to curing cancer, the FDA has found no scientific evidence to support these claims. So why go through all the risk that is associated with ear candles when you probably won’t even benefit from using them?

Instead of using ear candles to cure an earache or to regain loss of hearing, the FDA suggests that you have a licensed physician investigate the problem, because it is possible that these conditions are symptoms of a much more severe problem.

If it were me, I would take the trip to the doctor over sticking a candle in my ear any day.

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