FDA issues warning on 'ear candles'

February 25, 2010

Serious injuries can result from the use of "ear candles," the Food and Drug Administration warned this week.

Ear candles are hollow cones placed in the ear and burned allegedly to remove wax buildup and alleviate other medical conditions, including sinus infection, hearing loss and headaches. However, FDA said manufacturers' claims may not be accurate, and warned that fires and serious injuries can result from the use of ear candles.

Also referred to as "ear coning" or "thermal auricular therapy," the process of burning ear candles can injure the ear, cause bleeding, puncture the eardrum, and burn the face, ear canal, ear drum and middle ear. FDA views claims that ear candles are safe for children as a particular concern, saying children are more susceptible than adults to ear candle injuries.

FDA recently issued warning letters to three large manufacturers of ear candles, stating they had no agency approval or facility registration.