Kent Hearing Transparent

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We are sometimes asked by patients about Hopi candles and whether it is safe to use them. Hopi candles or cones, also sometimes referred to as ear candles, have been promoted as a non-invasive, holistic approach to improving both ear and more general health.  But they have come under scrutiny due to issues relating to both effectiveness and safety.

What the science says

Multiple studies have found no evidence to support the use or benefits of Hopi candles and ear candling to improve hearing.  The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) strongly advises against their use, stating that they are potentially harmful and ineffective in treating any medical condition.  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using ear candling, highlighting that risks are high and that there is “no valid scientific evidence for any medical benefit from their use.”  And an extensive range of respected medical publications and websites, including WebMD and Medical News Today, state that ear candling is unsafe and poses potential health risks to people using them.

What are Hopi candles?
Hopi candles are hollow cones traditionally made of fabric soaked in beeswax or paraffin. Named after the Native American Hopi tribe – though the tribe has publicly disassociated themselves from these products – the candles are often marketed as a treatment for earwax removal, sinus relief, improved hearing and other medical conditions.

Their use involves inserting the base of the candle into the ear and lighting the flame to, in theory, ‘draw out’ earwax and debris.

What are the risks when using Hopi candles?

There is a long list of potential risks and side effects from using Hopi candles to try to remove earwax or to address any other hearing related issue. These include:

The flame at the end of the candle poses a significant risk of burns to the face, hair, and inside the ear canal.

Ear Damage
Inserting the candle into the ear can cause blockages of the ear canal and could potentially cause both perforation of the eardrum and ear infections

Candle Wax Deposits
Contrary to claims of removing earwax, ear candling has been shown to deposit candle wax in the ear canal, potentially causing more severe blockages of the ear and running the risk of burns to the outer ear.

Unreliable Treatment
Using Hopi ear candles to treat any hearing issue may delay more effective treatments such as microsuction to remove unwanted earwax.

The claimed benefits of Hopi candles
Proponents of Hopi ear candles claim that they can:

  • Remove earwax and other debris from the ear canal
  • Improve hearing or reverse hearing loss and tinnitus
  • Provide relief from sinus problems
  • Promote general well-being
  • Relieve headaches and migraines
  • Improve general health and well-being                                                                           
  • Some producers of Hopi candles have even claimed that ear candles can help cure types of cancer

However, as previously stated there is no medical or scientific evidence to support these claims and there actually are many potential risks to health as outlined above.

Expert opinions and recommendations
Organisations including the NHS, the British Tinnitus Association and the American Academy of Audiology have warned against ear candle use.  Professional healthcare providers recommend evidence-based treatments if you’re experiencing a build-up of earwax, sinus problems, or any hearing issues.

For safe and effective earwax removal services, contact Dr Priya Carling AuD, RHAD and her team at Kent Hearing.  We always adhere to evidence-based best practices and provide expert diagnosis and treatment for hearing loss , tinnitus, earwax removal by microsuction and children’s hearing issues. You can contact us on 01732 525912.

Conclusion: Is it safe to use Hopi candles for hearing-related conditions?
There is no scientific evidence to support the use of Hopi candles or cones for earwax removal, hearing loss, tinnitus or any other hearing related condition, and indeed their use may pose a wide range of potential risks to the user. If you are experiencing any hearing related or other medical condition, we recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare provider such as your local GP or audiology practice for professional advice, diagnosis and treatment.