During our lifetimes, many of us can have issues with a build up of ear wax. Our ears are pretty good at self-cleaning and ear wax usually migrates out of the ear over time (movement of this wax is helped by talking and chewing). If wax is building up and causing problems, it is recommended to put a couple of drops of olive oil in your ear twice daily for a few days. It is important not to push anything down your ears, such as fingers or cotton buds, as this will just push the wax down deeper into the ear canal. Olive oil will help to soften the wax (it doesn’t dissolve it) and is useful for longer term use for people with recurrent wax issues.
Another type of ear wax remedy is sodium bicarbonate drops – these don’t just soften the wax, they also try to dissolve it. However, these drops are not recommended for continuous use. You should always consult a hearing health professional before starting with any type of ear drop, especially if you have other issues with your ears such as grommets, perforations or scarred ear drums.
The next safest method for ear wax removal is micro-suction carried out by a professional. This involves a small suction unit that gently pulls the wax out of the ear canal.
But what about candles? Many of you may have seen ear candles spoken about online through various blogs and videos but what exactly do these fads claim to do and do they actually work? Many people swear by them and say it works to get rid of ear wax as well as helping with tinnitus/ear infections/hearing problems/stress.
What is the method for ear candling?
Ear candles are hollow cones made of fabric covered in a candle wax such as paraffin wax, beeswax or soy wax. The pointed end of the candle is placed in your ear and the other, slightly wider end is lit. The candle is then burned for around 10-15 minutes.
Many people claim that as the candle burns, it creates a low level of suction that forces the ear wax out of your ear canal. Another theory is that it softens the wax in the ear canal, which later falls out over a few days. However, there is no scientific basis to confirm that ear candles work and no study has verified any of the claims made by people who have tried ear candling. If there was any suction created, it would be far too low to pull the wax up into the candle. The temperature at which the candle is burning is likely to be below body temperature, which is too low to melt the ear wax. The “ear wax” found at the end of the treatment is just the debris from the candle wax and fabric itself.
Candle wax is therefore not the best way to remove wax from your ears! The FDA has warned that the risks are high and ear candling provides no medical benefit. It could cause also problems, including:
• Candle wax may drip onto your face
• Candle wax may drip into your ear canal (the skin here is highly sensitive and you could damage your ear canal and drum)
• Candle wax may drip into the ear and cause a temporary blockage
• Having the candle in your ear may actually push wax deeper into the your ear canal
• Risk of infection
• Risk of ash being left in the ear
If you think you have a problem with ear wax, always seek professional advice!