Why do I have a pimple in my ear or what causes ear pimples? It is normal to have pimple in ears including on your ear lobe, ear canal, behind ears, on ear cartilage or on areas near your ears. Learn more on pimple in ear including causes such as hygiene, piercing, ingrown hair as well as ways to get rid of these pimples (treatments and remedies).
If you always have pimples on your ears i.e. inside your ear canal, on top or under your ear, on the ear lobe, cartilage, behind your ears, or anywhere on your ears (including a pimple near ear), you are not alone. I always have this problem of pimples on my ear too.
Can you get pimples in your ear?
The answer to whether or not can you get a pimple in your ear is YES. Although pimples, zits or acne is common on certain body parts, you can get them anywhere. Basically, a pimple or acne “occurs when the pores on your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria”.
Whether big or small, painful or painless, pimples on ears are mainly harmless normal pimples that often appear on other parts of your body.
How are pimples or zits formed?
Every pore on your body has a follicle with a hair and an oil gland (sebaceous glands). The oil is released from the gland and travels up your hair to the skin for lubrication.
Whenever there is too much sebum, dead skin cell accumulated or bacteria builds up, you will end up with a pimple i.e. “overabundance of oil, a pore clogged by dead skin cells, and bacteria all contribute to the development of pimple”.
Why do I have a pimple in my ear or what causes pimple in my ear ?
You now know that you can get a pimple in your ear and how pimples are generally formed. It is time to look at what can encourage pimples formation i.e. factors that can influence or lead to pimple formation.
1. Poor personal hygiene
The first possible cause of ear pimple is poor personal hygiene i.e. touching your ears with unwashed hands using dirty earphones or cellphones. Furthermore, unwashed hair, hair care products (gels and sprays) scratching ears with nails, pin, toothpick or any other objects that is not clean enough can result to pimples in ear.
These poor personal hygiene practices often introduce or gives bacteria good breeding grounds which would be responsible for your pimples on ear. Dirt can also clog your ear pores leading to pimples.
To get rid of pimples in your ears due to hygiene, ensure you clean your ears (both the auricle and canal using special ear cleaning pads), wipe your ears after showering, and ensure your hair is clean since it can host a lot of microorganisms and bacteria. Always wipe your handsets and earphones and thwack your sleeping pillows regularly.
2. Winter and summer weather
Summer weather can lead to pimples on your ears. According to Dr. Jeannette Graf, Assistant Clinical Professor Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, “Acne-prone skin is just like other skin, it’s a matter of our own microflora misbehaving,”. Heat and high humidity often increase sebum production and thus can cause acne.
On the other hand, cold weather especially the one experienced during winter as well as indoor heating can cause skin dryness. When your skin becomes dry, you could end up with pimples, not just on your ears but also on other body parts.
3. Pimple on ear due to occlusive clothing and helmets
Wearing a helmet as well as clothing that trap moisture can trap moisture around your ears, giving bacteria conducive environment to grow. As we have seen, bacteria when trapped in skin pores can lead to ear pimples or acne. Avoid as much as possible wearing occlusive clothes as well as helmets.
4. Ingrown pimple in ear
If hair gets trapped beneath your ear skin, it will result to a painful ear pimple i.e. a hurting irritated and infected pimple in ear. The pimple is often pus-filled, painful and red in appearance. This problem is common to people who have much ear hair as well as those who do not know how to correct remove hair from their ears.
To deal with this problem remove the ingrown hair and let hair grow through the blockage. Furthermore, infected ingrown pimple on ear can be treated by tropical antibiotic creams twice a day, use creams with hydrocortisone twice daily, adopt good shaving techniques, and “wash the affected area with an antibacterial soap or noncomedogenic cleanser twice a day”.
Pimples inside ears due to hormonal changes
Hormonal changes during pregnancy or puberty has been associated with pimples not just on ears but also no other body parts. These hormonal changes often increase sebum production. As already mentioned, overproduction of sebum can cause pimples.
5. Localized otitis externa
Otitis externa, “a condition that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the external ear canal, which is the tube between the outer ear and eardrum” often caused by a bacterial infection (sometimes allergies, irritation or fungal infection), when localized can cause pimple in ear canal.
Localized otitis externa happens when a hair follicle in the ear canal gets infected and will be characterized by a number of symptoms that include pain as well as “A small red pimple located in the ear canal. This pimple may eventually become white, and have yellow pus in the middle”.
Localized otitis externa usually goes away on its own. Painkillers, placing a warm towel on the affected ear or prescribed antibiotics might at times be recommended.
6. Ear piercing
The various ear piercings including earlobe, tragus, antitragus, industrial or cartilage piercing can often lead to a pimple on the ear piercing hole (site) or near it especially if infected.
7. Other pimple on ear causes
Other possible pimples in ear canal causes include wearing woolen or fur huts, use of poor cosmetic products, beach sand, taking some medications especially corticosteroids and birth control pill, eating diets with too much refined sugars, stress, boils or furuncle, allergic reactions (to medicines, foods, pet dander, etc.), some chronic illnesses, among others.
Blind pimple in ear
Ears can also be affected by blind pimple which are often swollen tender, inflamed and very painful without a head i.e. closed bump. A blind pimple can be purple, pink, red or brown in color. They are caused by face care products, diet, stress, hormonal changes, excess sebum production, among other causes.
If you have a blind pimple in ear, avoid popping or picking them since they will be more painful, might crust and scar if they break and could increase chances of being infected.
Anti-acne creams with 1-2% salicylic acid, try applying “an anti-inflammatory topical antibiotic, like Eryacne or ClindaTech”, use anti-acne face wash such as Olay Deep Cleansing Acne Control Face Wash, try benzoyl peroxide, steroid creams, tropical antibiotics, among others.
Some of the home remedies to deal with a blind pimple try warm compresses since it “can be very helpful in drying out the pimple”, icepack compresses (reduce inflammation and swelling), aloe vera, tea tree oil, apple and honey, witch hazel, clay masks, azelaic acid, among others.
Cystic acne pimple inside ear
The cause of cystic acne is not different from the above mentioned ear pimple cause. The difference is that it “happens when this infection goes deep into your skin, creating a red, tender bump that’s full of pus”.
Treatment is by oral antibiotics that lower inflammation and control bacteria, birth control pills for hormonal regulation, prescription strength gels, lotions or crams that contain retinoid, use of isotretinoin and spironolactone medications.
Be careful with pimple in ear canal or pimple inside ear
The pimple in ear canal causes are no different from the above causes we have listed. When you have very big canal pimples, hearing might be hampered. Furthermore, pimple inside ear canal can be very painful radiating the pain to your jaw and neck areas.
Be careful if you want to pop pimple inside ear since it is a delicate part of your ear and you might damage delicate parts of your middle ear. Avoid sticking objects into your ears to try pop or pick the pimple.
Our best advice is to see a doctor in case of severe symptoms and try safe remedies only as not every remedy can be used on your ear canal.
Pimple behind ear – pimples or lumps?
Pimple behind ears can be caused by any of the above causes. The pimples could be small or large, painless or painful (hurts) and swollen, depending on what causes them. If they are on your scalp behind your ears, those are scalp bumps or pimples.
Lumps behind ears should not be confused with pimples behind ears
However, sometimes, you could be having lumps and not just pimple on back of ear. Common causes of lumps behind ears include abscess, dermatitis, cancer, sebaceous cysts, lymphadenopathy, acne vulgaris, throat infection, mastoiditis, otitis media or lipoma.
Pimple on ear cartilage
Just like any other part of the body or ear, the cartilage can also have pimples especially on the folds including tragus, antitragus, antihelical fold, scapha, helix, fossa, and concha. The concha is more often prone to pimples as well as the fossa parts.
Pimple in ear lobe and behind earlobes
Besides the ear canal, you can also have pimples on your earlobes i.e. “the earlobes and conchal bowls (the round, concave parts of the outer ear) are filled with sebaceous glands” and this makes them a fertile place for acne or zits. Since the pores are smaller, they can easily be clogged and leading to pimple on ear lobe.
These pimples can be both on the front and back side of your earlobes i.e. pimple behind ear lobe, might be big or small, painful or painless. Treatment will depend on the cause and if you have to pop your earlobe pimples, you must know how to do it correctly. See the section on popping pimples on ears below.
Dealing with a painful pimple in ear or ear pimple pain
We have seen the various causes of pimple in your ear, some of which will cause painful pimples while others will not be really painful. For instance, ingrown pimple, localized otitis externa, blind pimples, and cystic acne can lead to pimple in ear hurts so much. Such pimple could be anywhere on your ear including on earlobe, behind your ears or on the ear canal.
Due to the fact that ear skin is thinner, expect ear pimples to be really or extremely hurt compared to pimples on other places. Furthermore, if the pimples deep, large or big, the pain might extend to your eyes, teeth, neck and jaw region.
For pimple in ear that hurts, anti-inflammatory, painkillers, antibiotics, antibacterial agents and anti-acne products are often recommended in dealing with a painful pimple on ear.
Home remedies if pimple in ear hurts
To get rid of a pimple ear pain ore painful zits on ears, especially if it really hurts bad, try these home remedies such as:
- Cold compresses – If your painful ear pimple is also swollen, cold compresses will be important
- Tomato juice – Works as astringent and it has lots of antioxidants. Be careful when using it since it can cause skin dryness.
- Garlic – Has healing and antibacterial properties
- Aloe vera – helps in wound healing and reducing skin inflammation
- Honey + cinnamon – honey has antibacterial properties while cinnamon will do away with the effect of nitric oxide which is associated with painful acne.
- Yoghurt + oatmeal – oatmeal helps exfoliate while yogurt will soothe itchiness, pain and inflammation.
Other home remedies for sore pimple in ear worthwhile trying include the use of apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, lemon juice, green tea, wipe it with alcohol, Epsom salt, milk, among others.
How to get rid of a pimple in your ear or how to get rid of ear pimples
Having a pimple on your ear is unsightly and can be bothersome especially the big or very painful one. Although we have already looked at some ways to get rid of pimples in your ear, we are going to mention some general ear pimple treatments which will be very important.
Always go for treatments that will not involve popping i.e. go for methods to get rid of pimple inside ear without popping. So how to get rid of pimples in your ear?
- Over the counter acne medications that kill bacteria and/or dry skin with ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur and salicylic acid. Prescription strength benzoyl peroxide or retinoic acid containing tropical creams can at times be prescribed.
- Prescribed oral and tropical antibiotics
- Birth control pills or spironolactone for women whose acne is due to hormonal changes
- Use isotretinoin, a medication based on vitamin A for severe cases when other treatments have not yielded results.
- If the pimples are very large and cystic in nature, cortisone injections might be recommended.
Other faster or overnight treatments include dermabrasion, use of chemical peels, or laser treatment if the pimples are on accessible areas especially on ear lobe, cartilage, or behind ears.
Besides above treatments, try the various home remedies discussed under dealing with a painful ear pimple.
Ear pimple pop and how to pop ear pimple
For those seeking for the answer whether or not can you pip an ear pimple, the best answer is NO. It is highly advisable you do not pop or pick them. Dermatologists, and cosmetologists often discourage popping zits and pimples since it leads to infection, bleeding (popped ear pimple bleeding is common if popping is done wrongly or early), and spread of bacteria from the zits you just popped.
Furthermore disturbing pimple can make them more painful especially if the ear pimple won’t pop, it might be bigger and scarring is more likely as you begin healing.
If you insist on ear zit popping, you must ensure the area is accessible. For instance, it will be easier popping pimple behind ear than one deep in your ear canal. In addition, ensure it has ripen before you pick it.
To pop a pimple in your ear, gently probe it with a warm washcloth, take a sterilized pin and gently begin pricking or probing it until it opens. Once open, gently squeeze it if possible or massage the area with a medicated solution until nothing comes from the area. Once done, apply an antiseptic lotion to avoid infections.