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Pimples are a common skin problem that can form on any part of the body, including the ear.
A pimple forms due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, oil, and debris in the pores. This blockage increases oil production and gives way to bacterial growth, therefore causing pain and inflammation. (1) This process can also occur inside the ear, giving rise to a pimple.
Pimples in the ear are comparatively more discomforting and painful than those on other body parts due to a lack of fat in the ear. Moreover, the ear is a delicate, sensitive body organ that contains several sensory nerve endings.
Causes of Ear Pimples
Pimples generally form as a result of clogging of pores with dead skin cells and sebum. (1) Specifically, the following factors can trigger pimple formation in the ears:
Treatment for Ear Pimples
The treatment for pimples in the ear is similar to acne treatment. You can use over-the-counter creams and medications. However, if these fail to work, consult your doctor for prescription treatment. If the pimple is extremely painful, you may ask your dermatologist for an extraction.
The different treatment options include:
1. Antibiotic creams
2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These medications curb the pimple-associated inflammation, therefore reducing the pain and sensitivity. Commonly used NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). (7)
3. Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide in 2.5%–5% concentration prevents the growth of acne-causing bacteria and is commonly used for the treatment of acne. (8) It can be found in many products including creams, serums, and face washes.
4. Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is another popular anti-acne ingredient that is highly effective, owing to its anti-inflammatory, keratolytic, and antibacterial properties. It dissolves the dead skin cells and exfoliates the skin, thus preventing clogging of pores.
You can use salicylic acid in low concentrations directly on the pimple. (9)
5. Retinoid creams
Retinoid is a form of vitamin A that can prevent and treat pimples. It is a keratolytic agent, which loosens the bonds between skin cells and dissolves dead skin cells.
It is suggested to apply retinoid cream on the skin after 20 minutes of washing it. Make sure to protect your skin from the sun after use. (10)
Your dermatologist may recommend a corticosteroid injection for the treatment of a keloid or hypertrophic scar. Steroids are injected directly into the scar tissue to decrease the itching, redness, and burning sensations that these scars may produce.
7. Professional extraction
The doctor will analyze the ear and ear canal and use a sterile comedone extractor to remove the comedone or acne content. (11) It is best to consult your dermatologist for this procedure rather than popping the pimple on your own.
Diagnosing Ear Pimples
While pimples are a common problem that is often self-diagnosed, they can be confused with similar symptoms of other skin problems. Therefore, consulting a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis is recommended.
The dermatologist may conduct a physical examination of your skin. They may order a sample culture to check for bacterial and fungal infections.
The dermatologist will also assess the bump on your ear to rule out conditions that resemble pimples, such as:
- Sebaceous cysts
- Seborrheic keratosis
- Keloid scars
- Acanthoma fissuratum
- Basal cell carcinoma
When to See a Doctor
It is advised to consult your doctor if you have a frequent problem of pimples in the ear, the pimple is oozing pus, or multiple black dots have formed on the ear. Moreover, treatment is warranted if the pimple doesn’t improve in a week and causes extreme pain.
You may develop a pimple on your ear if dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria accumulate in your skin pore and block it. The pimples in your ear can be quite discomforting and painful.
The good thing is there are treatments and self-care measures that can help treat the pimple. Make sure to consult your doctor if the pimple causes extreme pain or doesn’t improve in a week. The doctor may give you prescription-strength ointments or perform a pimple extraction.