Pimple in the Ear: The Symptoms, Causes, and How to Treat and Prevent It

May 31, 2023

Article by Hearing Partners, contributed by Sadrina Shah, Clinical Audiologist at Hearing Partners

Just like any part of your body with skin, the ear is not immune to the occasional pimple. Pimples in the ear may not only be an annoyance, but they can also cause pain and discomfort due to the unique characteristics of this area.

Compared to other parts of the body, such as the cheeks or forehead, pimples in the ear tend to be more painful. The absence of ample fat and the tautness of the skin caused by the underlying cartilage can intensify the discomfort associated with an inflamed pimple. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the symptoms, causes, and effective methods to treat and prevent pimples in the ear. By understanding the nature of ear pimples and implementing proper care, you can alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with them, as well as reduce the likelihood of their recurrence.

Areas Where Pimples in the Ear Commonly Occur

Pimples can manifest in various locations within the ear region. Some common areas where they tend to occur include the earlobe, behind the ear and inside the ear.

  • Pimple on the earlobe: This area is prone to accumulating dirt, oil, and bacteria, especially if you frequently wear earrings.
  • Pimple behind the ear: This region is susceptible to sweating, and the accumulation of sweat, combined with oils and dead skin cells, can clog the pores and lead to pimple formation. 
  • Pimple inside the ear: These pimples in the ear canal can result from a combination of factors, such as excessive wax production, bacterial growth, or improper hygiene. Pimples inside the ear may cause pain, itching, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Symptoms of Pimples in the Ear

Pimples in the ear can present with a range of symptoms that can cause discomfort and concern. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms to differentiate them from other conditions and to seek appropriate medical attention if needed. Here are some common symptoms associated with pimples in the ear:

  • Earaches and tenderness to the ear
  • Sore bump within the ear canal or the external ear
  • Presence of pus in the ear

If the pain persists or the bump becomes larger over time, it’s advisable to consult a general practitioner (GP) who may prescribe topical medication. Should a pimple extraction be necessary, then you can visit a dermatologist who can do the extraction for you.

Causes of Pimples in the Ear

Pimples, whether they appear on your face, back, in your ear or around your ear, are the result of clogged pores. When the pores on your skin become blocked by a combination of body oils, perspiration, and dead skin cells, they can lead to the formation of pimples. 

Here are some ways in which the pores on your ears can become clogged:

Build-up of sebum, dead skin cells, and sweat

The ear, like other areas of the body, is susceptible to the accumulation of these substances, especially in hot and humid conditions or during periods of increased physical activity.

Improper removal of ear wax or the use of Q-tips

When ear wax removal is carried out incorrectly or when Q-tips are used to clean the ears, the wax can be pushed further down the ear canal, leading to blockages and potential pimples.

Dirty or infrequently cleaned earphones, hearing aids, and earrings

If these items aren’t regularly cleaned, they can transfer contaminants to the skin of the ear, leading to the formation of pimples.

Exposure to dusty or dirty environments

Dust, dirt, and pollutants in the air can settle on the skin, clogging the pores and potentially causing pimples. This is particularly relevant for individuals who work or spend significant time in environments with poor air quality or excessive dust.

Stress or hormonal imbalances

When the body experiences stress or hormonal fluctuations, it can lead to increased sebum production, which can contribute to pore blockages and the formation of pimples.

Complications of Pimples in the Ear

If left untreated, ear pimples can lead to various complications that can further impact your well-being. Here are some potential complications associated with untreated ear pimples:

  • Increased ear pain
  • Swelling in the ear
  • Jaw pain
  • Infection and formation of boils
  • Hearing loss

In the rare case where an infection from an ear pimple becomes severe and is left untreated, it can potentially lead to hearing loss. The infection can affect the delicate structures of the ear, including the eardrum and the middle ear. Prompt medical intervention is crucial to prevent long-term hearing impairment. 

Note! 

Some common signs and symptoms of hearing loss include:

  • Regularly asking others to repeat themselves 
  • Issues with sound clarity in noisy or crowded places
  • Turning up sound volumes much higher than normal

If you begin to encounter any of the above situations, it may be time to take an online hearing test or schedule an in-clinic hearing test where the audiologist will determine if you’re suffering from hearing loss and if an infection is the cause of your condition.

How to Treat Pimples in the Ear

If you feel a pimple emerging or if a pimple in its early stages has surfaced in your ear, these are some home remedies you can use to treat it.

Use a warm compress

Warm Compress

If the pimple is on the exterior of the ear, applying a warm compress to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Take a clean washcloth or cotton ball, soak it in warm water, and gently place it against the pimple for about 10 to 15 minutes. The warmth will help open up the pores, allowing any trapped debris or fluids to be released.

Repeat a few times a day until the bump subsides.

Use pimple cream

Pimple Cream

Topical pimple cream containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help to bring down the pesky pimple. 

Using a clean cotton swab, take a small amount of pimple cream and apply it directly to the pimple.

Ensure that only a small amount is used so that the cream doesn’t flow down deep into the ear, as this may cause infections.

Repeat once every day until the pimple goes away.

Note! 

If a pimple bursts and drains itself naturally, be sure to quickly clean up any pus or fluids that flow out. You should also wash the ear with a mild facial wash to remove any bacteria and prevent infections.

Seek professional help

Audiologist checking the patient's ear

If the pimple in your ear persists, becomes increasingly painful, or shows signs of an infection, it’s advisable to seek professional help.

A GP may prescribe topical or oral medications, and if needed, a dermatologist can help extract and drain the pimple.

How to Prevent Pimples in the Ear

Taking proactive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing pimples in the ear. By incorporating the following practices into your routine, you can promote ear health and minimise the likelihood of ear pimples:

  • Clean earphones, hearing aids and earrings often 
  • Wash your ears and the surrounding areas when showering or washing your face
  • Keep your hair clean or away from your face if it’s dirty
  • Avoid having dirty water enter the ear

FAQs About Pimples in the Ear

Should I pop the pimple in my ear?

No! Not only is it hard to see and navigate the small ear canal space, but you risk introducing more bacteria and damaging the skin in your ear in the process of popping the pimple. 

You should leave the pimple to drain naturally and follow with a disinfection of the area immediately afterwards. If the pimple is extremely painful or your hearing is impacted, visit a dermatologist who can drain it for you.

How long do pimples in the ear last?

If you take care to keep the area clean and use home remedies like warm compresses and pimple cream, the ear pimple should subside on its own within a few days. 

Should you try to pop the pimple and aggravate it in the process, you may worsen the situation and cause an infection to occur.

What is the difference between pimples and boils?

Both pimples and boils appear as red bumps on the skin. However, boils are usually larger and pimples are typically smaller. 

Another difference is that a pimple is a result of a clogged pore while a boil is a pus-filled lump caused by a bacterial infection.

Suspect you might have hearing loss?

Your ears play an important role in your daily life and should not be neglected.

Speak to our hearing care professionals regarding your concerns today.