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Pimple in ear: causes and treatment

Last update on Apr, 10, 2023

Why do you get pimples and boils in your ears?

Everyone, especially those going through puberty, gets pimples and blackheads on the body, causing pain, annoyance and discomfort. Unfortunately, when pimples develop in or around the ear, they can cause pain and discomfort due to their awkward location. In extreme cases, they can also cause hearing loss and jaw pain.

Ear pimples most often occur due to poor hygiene and the excess presence of earwax in the ear canal which clogs the pores, causing pimples to appear in different areas of the ear. In summary, the pimples can occur due to:

  • excess sebum production
  • dead skin cells
  • clogged pores
  • bacteria
  • fungal infections

Both boils and pimples appear as red bumps on the skin. Boils are usually larger and have pain, drainage of pus, and fever. Pimples are typically smaller. The main difference between them is that a pimple is a result of a clogged pore. A boil, or furuncle, is a pus-filled lump caused by bacterial infection.

Whiteheads form when the sebaceous glands in our skin produce more sebum than they should and when the excess sebum remains under the skin. If this sebum comes out of the skin, blackheads form. This is due to sebum and dead cells blocking the pilosebaceous follicle coming into contact with the air and oxidizing, creating the typical dark color we associate with blackheads. 

The sebum accumulated inside the blackheads can act as a breeding ground for the bacteria naturally present on the epidermis and worsen until causing small irritations commonly known as pimples.

Pimple in ear

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Overview of pimples in different parts of the ear

Pimples in the ear area can appear in different places. Let's learn more about the different types of pimples that can occur in the ear and what they represent.

Pimples in the ears cause pain and sometimes earaches. They occur due to various factors in the auricle, and ear canal, where the skin that lines the outer part of the canal contains hair cells and sebaceous glands that produce earwax and fatty and oily secretions.

When sebaceous glands work too hard to produce excess sebum, a pimple can form in the ear, but this can also happen when pores become clogged with bacteria or dead skin cells. The bacteria circulating inside the ear and blocking the pores are brought on by contact with fingers, specifically with objects such as smartphones, headphones, and earphones not cleaned properly and periodically.

The cause of pimples behind the ears often comes from simple hygiene mistakes. For example, poor or inaccurate hygiene leads to the development and therefore the appearance of pimples behind the ears. To stop pimples from appearing you should wash the area behind the ears daily as part of your face washing routine.

In fact, leftover soap, or the production of sebum or sweat can cause the accumulation of dirt which in turn leads to the appearance of pimples. Therefore, routinely washing the area behind the ears near the lobe with a non-aggressive neutral soap can prevent the formation of pimples.

Another useful trick to prevent the formation of pimples behind the ears is to dry the ears and lobes well after your shower to eliminate water or soap residue.

The causes of an earlobe pimple are similar to other areas and are mainly due to the accumulation of excess of dirt, sweat or dead skin inside earlobe pores. Excessive headphone use can trigger this type of pimple as air can accumulate underneath the headset and cause bacteria to build up around/on the ear cartilage. Another common cause of pimples on the earlobe is an infected earring or ear piercing. This may be due to:

  • dirty piercing equipment
  • reaction to metal
  • bacterial infection from handling the new piercing

Blackheads found in the ear area can indicate dehydration. But often the main reason why they form is excessive sebum production, especially for people with oily skin. Other factors include poor hygiene, hormonal changes or genetic factors. The continuous use of dirty earphones can also cause ear blackheads. To prevent these from occuring, remember to clearn your ears and clearn your earphones, headphones and hearing devices regularly.
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How to get rid of pimples in ear

Pimples in the ear usually heal themselves, but some treatments can speed up the process. Consider the following remedies to help you get rid of ear pimples quickly.

If cleaned carefully and gently, an ear pimple will heal on its own in a few days. If repeatedly touched or squeezed, it can take weeks and the pimple can last even a month or more.

Ear pimples should never be popped because in addition to hurting, it could cause severe irritation, inflammation or even an infection. Squeezing the pimple, in fact, causes the spread of bacteria and pus deeper, inside the pores, with a worsening of the situation. The infection can lead to symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • swelling
  • redness
  • pain

Warm compresses can help with tissue inflammation and improve blood circulation. This treatment helps with pimples inside the ears by counteracting swelling, redness, and irritation. The heat may help bring the pus to the surface and allow it to drain out on its own. If a pimple begins to drain due to a warm compress, clean up the liquid quickly but cautiously to avoid irritating the affected area and spreading bacteria.

While at-home remedies such as warm compresses can help, please note that pimples deep inside the ear canal should always get treated by an ENT physician and not independently using at-home remedies.

Another at-home solution to ear pimples is using tea tree essential oil to enhance the effect of the warm compress. To do so, add a small amount of tea tree essential oil to a cotton swab and swab the pimple. Another oil you can use to treat pimples is jojoba oil, which can help eliminate bacteria causing pimples. Add a small amount of jojoba oil to a Q-tip and swab the pimple. Other remedies and ointments may be available at your local pharmacy to help alleviate ear pimples. If experiencing persistent or painful breakouts, contact your doctor or local physician.

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How do you prevent ear pimples and blackheads?

Prevention of pimples and blackheads in the ear can be summarized in a few points:

  • Always wash your hands, as they often come into contact with the ears and can infect them;
  • Clean your ears daily;
  • Clean and dry your ears carefully after a shower, a swim in the sea or the pool;
  • Sanitize your phone, especially when used by several people;
  • observe a personal hygiene routine with detergents recommended by a dermatologist;
  • Use creams and cosmetics that do not encourage the formation of pimples;
  • Keep your hair clean to avoid the formation and accumulation of bacteria;
  • Avoid junk food, an unhealthy diet can encourage the appearance of pimples.

With these precautions, there will be fewer chances of pimples appearing in the ears because you will avoid spreading dirt and bacteria in the ear area. If a pimple in the ear has already formed, do not squeeze or touch it.

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