What are ear candles, and do they work?
Yes, they can work. Ear candles are 8- to 12-inch cones of rolled-up waxy paper material-they look like the cones cotton candy comes in-and they're used to remove soft earwax. To use one, lie on your side and place the narrow end of the candle in your ear canal, lighting the opposite end. The candle burns slowly, creating a vacuum that can draw wax out of the ear.
WHO SHOULD USE THEM
For 90 percent of people, earwax comes out on its own, but individuals with very small or especially curvy ear canals may need help clearing their ears. (Too much earwax can block sound or trap moisture in the ear, which can lead to infection.) Some of my clients have found that ear candles help, but others still need to visit a doctor to have wax removed. Hard wax is eliminated with special tools at a doctor's office; ear candles cannot remove hard wax.
HANDLE WITH CARE
Use an ear candle quarterly if it helps you get rid of soft wax. Be warned, however: I've had a few patients burn their ear canals, but this shouldn't happen if you follow the instructions on the package. When ear candling is done safely, there are no real risks. Ear candles are sold at health food stores and are also available online at peacefulcompany.com, drugstore.com, gnc.com, and many other sites.
—Michael Seidman, M.D., director of otologic/ neurotologic surgery at the Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit and coauthor of Save Your Hearing Now (Time Warner, 2007)