Salons and spas in Dubai are practising ear-candling therapy in violation of the law, and are endangering their clients by doing so, experts and officials said.
Dubai salons offer illegal candling
DUBAI // Beauty salons and spas in the emirate are illegally offering ear candling therapy, a procedure that supporters say removes ear wax and reduces sinus problems but which medical experts say is ineffective and potentially harmful.
Offenders can be slapped with hefty fines of up to Dh20,000.
Ear candling is touted as an ancient therapy in which a special hollow candle, lit at one end, is inserted into the ear. The hot air from the flame is said to draw out the wax.
"It is illegal and such procedures aren't allowed in salons. Any medical treatment should be approved by the health authorities," said Redha Salman, director of public health and safety at Dubai Municipality.
Under municipal rules, salons are not allowed to use any therapeutic or beauty equipment without approval from the Dubai Health Authority, which does not permit this sort of therapy.
"We do not allow any medical treatment or claims of treatment in salons," Mr Salman said, adding that salons and spas can only offer services that have been licensed by the municipality.
"If it is not in their licence, they cannot do it. There is a Dh20,000 fine for carrying out anything not in the licence," he said.
A number of salons and spas offer the service, charging Dh100 to Dh150. The entire process takes no more time than a coffee break.
"It is done in about 15 to 20 minutes," said a receptionist at a beauty salon in the emirate who did not want to be named. "It is done carefully and will be finished quickly."
This particular salon charges Dh100 for a one-time procedure.
A receptionist in a spa on Sheikh Zayed Road said the therapy was completely safe.
"It is good for people who swim or do lots of flying," she said. "Suppose you have wax, dust or ear block, we can do it."
She also said the spa had a licence for ear candling, but did not say which authority had provided it.
Some salon managers contacted by The National initially said they offered the procedure. But when pressed for details about their permits, they said that they no longer provide the service.
"We did it only for two clients but were told by municipality that we need a separate licence, so we stopped it," said the manager of a salon in Barsha.
The manager initially said ear candling was available, but later said the salon had suspended the service this week.
At Beauty Solutions, a salon on Sheikh Zayed Road, a manager initially said that the procedure was available but subsequently clarified that the business had stopped offering it last year.
"Clients said it was not good to do ear candling," said Naseem Begum, manager at Beauty Solutions. "We don't know the impact and don't want to take risk."
A salon owner in the Dubai Marina who did not want to be named said the municipality needed to provide clear directives.
"Every day, the laws are changing," she said. "We would appreciate it if Dubai Municipality sent out directives by emails or faxes."
According to a copy of the rules that the owner showed to The National, the municipality approved ear wax removal by beauty therapists and nurses. However, the regulations did not specify the type of procedure that could be used, she said.
A doctor said the procedure could be dangerous.
"It is not safe at all," said Dr Shaharyar Ali Malik, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist with the Aster Medical Centre. "They are trying to create a vacuum. There is a lot of chance of injury to skin, the ear and it can damage the eardrum. The safest thing to do is consult an ENT specialist."
"Wax gets formed naturally and comes out automatically," he noted.
A supplier for ear candles in Dubai said the demand from salons had dropped in the past few years.
"Nowadays there is not much demand," said Lorna Cardona. "It doesn't do any harm but should be done by professionals. We supply to less than 10 salons and spas once every three months."