Why do you have a pimple in your ear? What causes pimples in the ear? It’s actually normal to experience pimples in the ears, including the lobe, ear canal, on the cartilage, behind your ears or on the skin around your ears.
Learn more here about what to do with a pimple in the ear, including the cause, which may be ingrown hair, piercing or hygiene. We’ll also fill you in on remedies and treatments to help in getting rid of those pimples.
How can you get pimples in the ear?
Acne pimples are more commonly found on other parts of the body, like your face or your back. But you certainly can get them in the ears, too. Pimples occur when your skin pores become clogged with bacteria, oil or dead skin, according to healthline.com.
Whether they are large or small, quiet or painful, pimples on the ear are usually harmless, just like most pimples anywhere else on your body.
How do zits or pimples form?
Each pore in your body includes a follicle and hair, along with a gland that secrets oil. That oil is released from your glands and travels up the hair to the skin, to help in lubricating it.
When there is a build-up of bacteria, an accumulation of dead skin cells or too much sebum, this often causes a pimple. According to healthline.com, each of those things contributes to pimple development.
Why do you have a pimple in or behind the ear?
Now you know that you can indeed get pimples in the ear, and how pimples usually form. It’s time to check out the things that may encourage the formation of pimples, or factors that can influence skin and lead to the formation of pimples.
- Summer and winter weather
Summer weather may lead to a pimple in your ear. Skin that is prone to acne is just like the rest of your skin. The difference is the misbehavior of your body’s microflora, says Dr. Jeannette Graf, Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology. High humidity and heat may cause excess production of sebum and lead to acne.
Winter has its own problems for skin. Cold weather and the way you heat your home may cause your skin to dry out. When you have dry skin, you may end up with typical acne on your body, including pimples in the ears.
- Poor personal hygiene
Another major contributor to ear pimples is poor overall personal hygiene. This includes touching your ears with dirty hands, or using unclean cellphones and earphones. Not washing your hair often enough, using excessive hair care sprays and gels, and scratching your ears with unclean toothpicks, fingernails or other objects may result in pimples in your ears.
These practices of poor hygiene allow bacteria a good place to breed. This can lead to a pimple on your ear. Dirt may be clogging the pores in the ears, which also leads to pimples.
To heal pimples in the ears caused by poor hygiene, make sure that you clean your ears with proper ear products. Wipe your ears clean after you shower and make sure that you have clean hair. Hair can host bacteria and microorganisms if it’s not clean. If you use earphone or headsets, wipe them before using. Keep your pillows and pillowcases clean.
- Ingrown pimples in the ear
If an ingrown hair is trapped beneath the skin of your ear, it can result in a painful pimple. It may even become infected. This pimple is often filled with pus, red and painful. If you have a lot of ear hair, this problem may be more common for you. It also affects people who are unaware of the proper way to remove hair from the ears.
In dealing with these pimples, remove any ingrown hairs and allow hair to grow through any cell or oil blockage. You may use topical antibiotic creams a couple times a day, to deal with infected ingrown hair pimples in the ear. You can also use hydrocortisone creams two times a day, adopt better techniques for shaving and wash the entire ear area with antibacterial soaps or noncomedogenic cleansers two times each day.
- Localized Otitis Externa
This condition leads to swelling, redness and inflammation of your external ear canal. This is the tube linking the outer ear to the eardrum. It may be caused by bacterial infections, fungal infections, allergies or irritation. When these causes are localized, it can lead to a pimple in the ear canal.
This issue happens when hair follicles in ear canal become infected. It is characterized by numerous symptoms, including small white pimples and pain. The white pimples may develop yellow pus inside, according to medicalnewstoday.com.
Localized Otitis generally goes away by itself. Antibiotic prescriptions, warm towel treatments and painkillers are often recommended.
- Pimple in ear from helmets or occlusive clothing
Wearing sports or motorcycle helmets or clothing that traps moisture around the ears gives bacteria a perfect place to grow. When the bacteria is trapped within the pores of the skin, it may cause ear pimples. Only wear helmets when you need to, and don’t wear clothing that traps moisture.
- Pimples in ears from changes in hormones
In puberty or pregnancy, changes in hormones may cause pimples in ears and on other parts of your body. The changes will often cause an increase in the production of sebum. This overproduction causes there to be too much oil in your pores, leading to pimples.
- Ear piercings
Various piercings of the ear include cartilage, industrial, anti-tragus, tragus and earlobe piercings, which may lead to pimples at the piercing sites. This is especially true if the site becomes infected.
- Other causes of pimples in ears
Other possible causes for pimples in the ear include:
- Some chronic illnesses
- Allergic reactions
- Overconsumption of refined sugar
- Taking birth control pills
- Taking medications like corticosteroids
- Beach sand
- Poor quality cosmetic products
- Wearing fur or wool hats
Blind pimples in the ear
Your ear may also be affected by a blind pimple. It is painful, tender and inflamed, and doesn’t have a head. It has a closed bump. Blind pimples may be brown, red, pink or purple. They may be caused by excess production of sebum, changes in hormones, stress or poor quality face care products.
If you develop a blind pimple in your ear, do not pick it or pop it. That may cause it to become more painful or to crust and scar. If they break open, this increases your chances of developing infection.
Anti-acne salicylic acid creams may help in treating blind pimples in the ear. You may also use topical antibiotics, steroid creams, benzoyl peroxide or an anti-acne face wash product.
Home remedies can work on blind pimples, too. Warm compresses will dry the pimple out, while ice packs reduce swelling. Clay masks, witch hazel, apple & honey, tea tree oil and aloe Vera may also help.
Cystic acne type pimple inside the ear
Cystic acne causes are no different from other causes we have discussed above. The difference occurs when the infection travels deeply inside the skin, which creates a tender red bump filled with pus, according to webmd.com.
Treating cystic acne pimples is done with oral antibiotics, to control bacteria and lessen inflammation. Other helpful products include retinoid creams or lotions, prescription strength gels, birth control pills to regulate hormones and the use of spironolactone and isotretinoin medications.
Use caution with a pimple inside the ear or in the ear canal
Pimples in the ear canal are caused by the same issues we’ve listed above. If you have large pimples in the ear canal, your hearing may become impaired. The pain from an ear canal pimple may also radiate to your neck and jaw area.
If you have severe symptoms, seek out help from your physician or dermatologist. If you use home remedies, use only the safer ones. Not all remedies are suitable for ear canal use.
If you have a bump behind your ear – is it a pimple or a lump?
Pimples behind your ears may be brought on by any of the causes above. The pimples may be large or small, painful or painless and usually swollen, depending on their cause. If they occur behind your ear, on the scalp, these are scalp pimples or bumps.
Don’t confuse lumps behind your ears as pimples behind the ears
You may develop lumps behind your ears that are not pimples. Common causes for lumps include lipoma, otitis media, mastoiditis, throat infection, acne, lymphadenopathy, sebaceous cysts, cancer, dermatitis or abscess.
Pimples on ear cartilage
Your ear cartilage may experience pimples, like any other body part. They occur most often on skin folds, like the concha, fossa, helix, scapha, antiheical fold, tragus or anti-tragus.
Pimple in ear and behind the earlobe
You may have pimples on the earlobes, which are full of sebaceous glands. This makes them a likely place for zits or acne. This area has smaller pores, too, and they can clog and lead to a pimple on the ear lobe.
Dealing with painful pimples in ear
We’ve discussed various causes for a pimple in the ear. Some are painful, and some are not. The skin of the ear is thinner than most places on the body, so ear pimples often hurt more than others. If the pimples are deep or large, their pain could extend to your jaw, neck, tooth and eye areas.
If these pimples hurt, you can treat them with anti-acne products, antibacterial agents, antibiotics, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Home remedies for pimple in ear pain
To overcome the pain of a pimple in ear, try the home remedies below:
- Tomato juice
This is an astringent, and contains valuable antioxidants. Use it with care, as it may dry out your skin.
- Cold compresses
If your ear pimple is swollen and painful, a cold compress will help.
- Aloe Vera
This will help to reduce inflammation and in healing the wound.
This has antibacterial and healing properties.
- Oatmeal & yogurt
Oatmeal exfoliates the skin of the ear, and yogurt soothes inflammation, itching and pain.
- Cinnamon & honey
Cinnamon counters the effects of nitric oxide and honey offers antibacterial properties.
Other sore pimple in ear home remedies you may try include milk, Epsom salt, alcohol wipes, green tea, lemon juice, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar.
Getting rid of pimple in your ear
Choose treatments that do not involve popping. Acne medications that dry skin and kill bacteria will help. They include products that contain salicylic acid, sulfur or benzoyl peroxide. Your physician or dermatologist may prescribe prescriptions medications that include retinoic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
Prescription topical & oral antibiotics
- Spironolactone or birth control pills can help if your acne is caused by changes in hormones.
- Medications with vitamin A, like isotretinoin, work in severe cases if other treatments haven’t helped.
- If your pimples are cystic and large, your dermatologist may recommend cortisone injections.
- Other faster treatments include laser treatment, dermabrasion or chemical peels.
How to pop a pimple in the ear
The best answer to: Should you pop a pimple in the ear? is NO. It’s usually not recommended to pick or pop them. It can lead to bleeding, infection and a spread of bacteria. Disturbing pimples can make them even more painful, larger and invite scarring.
If you have to pop an ear pimple, ensure that it is in an accessible area. Popping a zit behind your ear is easier than popping one in the ear canal. The pimple should be ripened and ready to pop, too.
To pop an ear pimple, probe it gently using a warm washcloth. Sterilize a pin and probe the pimple until you open it. After it is open, squeeze gently or massage the pimple area with some medicated solution, until there is no pus or debris coming from the pimple. After this, use antiseptic lotions in order to avoid an infection.
This VIDEO shows how to pop a pimple in the ear.