Ear Candles - Risk of Serious Injuries, Avoid Use
February 23, 2010
The FDA is warning healthcare providers and patients of the risk of serious injuries caused by ear candles. Serious injuries have occurred with use of ear candles, including fire, facial burns, ear burns, eardrum perforation, bleeding, ear injury from dripping wax, and ear plugging by wax. Some patients required surgery to treat their injuries. In addition, patients using ear candles may delay seeking medical attention for an underlying treatable condition.
FDA does not recommend using ear candles in any patients of any age and is especially concerned about ear candles which are advertised for use in children. Compared with adults, infants and children may be at even higher risk for injury because they have smaller ear canals and may move while the ear candle is used.
An ear candle is a hollow fabric cone dipped in wax that is approximately 10 inches in length. The ear candle is lit placed in the outer ear while the patient lies on their side. Although there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, manufacturers claim ear candles are beneficial for removing ear toxins, improving hearing or cognition, curing cancer, and for treating ear wax buildup, ear or sinus infections, headache, and earache. FDA and Health Canada are taking enforcement action against manufacturers of ear candles.
Advise patients and caregivers not to use ear candles. Report ear candle injuries to MedWatch online at www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm, by phone at 800-332-1088, or by fax at 800-332-0178. Additional information is available at the following links:
- MedWatch alert:
- Advice for patients:
- FDA Consumer update:
February 23, 2010; University of Utah, Drug Information Service. Copyright 2010, Drug Information Service, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.