Ear blockages can occur for a range of reasons, but one thing they all have in common is the discomfort they can cause. From pain and itching, to loss of hearing and a feeling of unbalance – a blocked ear can wreak havoc. But before you go reaching for any quick fix to the problem, our experts have some warnings about a particular popularised home remedy.
Ear wax candles have emerged as a ‘popular’ at-home remedy claiming to use heat to ‘suction’ ear wax out of the ear canal. As the name suggests, one end of the candle is inserted into the ear while the other is lit. As you lay on your side, the candle is said to draw out earwax and debris from the ear canal, capturing it in the hollow inside of the candle.
Despite their promises, ear candles can actually do far more harm than good. We’ll take you through the risks associated with ear candling, and some safe and effective alternatives to remove ear wax.
Why Are Ear Candles So Bad?
They Can Cause Burns
The face and ears are extremely sensitive areas of the body and are hence very susceptible to burns. Although ear candles come with a protective plate to catch wax, these are often flimsy. Made of cardboard or foil and usually only a few centimetres in diameter, these trays aren’t always a reliable means of catching hot candle wax before it drips onto the face.
They Can Cause Further Blockage
Sticking any object into your ear should be avoided wherever possible. This is particularly true for ear candles. Placing ear wax candles into the ear canal, especially at a depth to hold it upright, can push earwax further down the ear canal. This could cause increased blockage, worsening symptoms of pain and discomfort.
In severe cases, candles can compact earwax to an extreme point where surgery may be required to treat it.
They Can Damage Ear Drum
Beyond causing further blockage, inserting a narrow candle into the ear canal can risk damaging the eardrum. The added risk of hot wax dripping makes a dangerous concoction for the safety of your delicate ears.
A ruptured or perforated eardrum can result in hearing loss and increased susceptibility to infection. Not to mention it can be extremely painful.
They Don’t Work
The risks mentioned above far outweigh any benefits ear candles provide. In fact, numerous studies have found no scientific evidence that the candles pull debris from the ear. In some instances, they even found an increase in wax as a result of candle wax deposits.
You May Not Need to Clear Your Ears
Unless it’s causing a blockage or discomfort, ear wax should be left alone. It’s a natural and healthy component of the ear’s functioning. It keeps our ear canals lubricated and protected while preventing dust and dirt from travelling too far down the ear.
Plus, the ear has a self-cleaning mechanism which regulates the removal of ear wax through the ear canal to the outer ear.
They Should Never Be Used on Children
Ear wax candles should never be used on children as the risks increase greatly. Firstly, because their ear canals are smaller than an adult’s and are therefore more prone to blockages. The second reason is that children will often move around during the procedure, increasing the risk of injury via dripping wax or burns.
If you are seeking a home remedy to removing the earwax, set down the ear wax candles and instead pick up a bottle of earwax softening drops. While these can only be used if there is no damage to the eardrum, they are a far safer alternative to ear candles.
These drops are non-invasive and work to soften and break down the built-up wax. Softening drops can be found at your local chemist. We recommend purchasing a chemist grade olive oil variety, or Ear Clear if it’s available.
For safe, reliable and effective removal of ear wax, manual removal via professional micro suction is the best option.
Earworx’ team of qualified nurses use small instruments and gentle suctions to remove wax from the ear canal without affecting the canal wall or eardrum. The procedure typically provides immediate relief from blocked ear symptoms, and nurses will then provide education on how to prevent blockages from returning in future.
If you’re after a non-invasive treatment to remove ear wax, contact Earworx to book an appointment today.