Painful Pimple in Ear, Treatment

Pimple in ear canal
Pimple in ear canal

Heard of painful pimple in ear or ear acne? This is not an uncommon occurrence and can occur anywhere on the surface of the ear including inside the ear canal. Pimples are simply blocked up pores in the skin. While they are harmless, they can sometimes be painful causing ear aches or infections. Ears are a potential fertile ground for development of acne as the area in and around the ears are filled with sebaceous glands.

Since the skin pores in the ears are too small, they easily get clogged making a favorable ground for bacterial growth. If the bacterial load is significant, inflammatory responses ensue then redness and pain follow. Pain may radiate to the jaws, eyes or cause the entire head to ache. If an ear pimple is too huge or deep in ear canal it may narrow the ear passages causing temporary loss of hearing.

Painful pimple in ear
Painful pimple in ear

Painful Pimple in Ear Canal

The skin of the ear is no different from that on the rest of the face. It responds to the same hormonal stimulations. It is important to note that, having pimples in ear is not uncommon and should be able to respond to pimple treatment like those in other areas. The point of concern comes when the pimple turns sore, becomes painful and refuses to go away even with treatment. Ranella Hirsch a Boston based dermatologist says that ear acne is similar to clogged pores you’d see anywhere else.

Most ear pimples can go unnoticed for a while until they start to hurt or are touched without knowing like when one is combing hair. The skin on the ear is very sensitive meaning that once they start to hurt, you will surely feel it. Once a pimple starts to hurt it would be right to assume that it is no longer acne but a boil or furuncle.

Furuncles occur if you try to scratch or pop a pimple with your fingernail or pin, giving bacteria a working ground for what they are known best. This will result in accumulation of pus, sepsis or recurrent boils. In this case, it is important to see your doctor immediately.

What Causes Painful Pimples in the Ear?

Clogged skin pores or follicles are majorly the cause. The ear just like the rest of the skin has follicles. Pimples are caused collectively by bacteria, accumulation of oil and clogged skin pores. With poor hygiene it is relatively common for the follicles on the ear to become blocked and develop into pimples. Dead cells can also accumulate in skin pores which will form blackheads. The most common causative agent is the staohylococcus bacteria.

Other causes of pimples inside ear include:

  • Allergic reactions to cosmetics, medicines and fabric
  • Stress
  • Improper nutrition
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Hormonal imbalances during pregnancy or puberty

Pimple in Ear Canal Symptoms

Pimple in ear canal
Pimple in ear canal

Depending on the size and the cause of your pimple in ear, it may present with different symptoms. Management usually depends on these symptoms. The main pimple in ear canal symptom is pain. The pain may be quite severe even if the pimple is small. This will however depend on the type (furuncle, cabuncle or zit) and location of the pimple. Other symptoms may include itching, irritation and temporary hearing loss if the ear pimple is too big narrowing the ear canal. If the pimple breaks or bursts, you may have ear discharge. Usually, once the pimple bursts, it may bring relief. However, if the fluid is left to accumulate in the ear, it may cause ear infection, blackheads or recurrent pimples.

Pimple in Ear Treatment

Like pimples on other parts of the face, pimples in ear will go without any treatment. The body’s immune system is able to clear bacteria that causes pimples. It is however a problem if the pimple hurts.

It will be sad to know that hair care and products may be the cause of painful ear zits. Hair conditioners, sprays, gels and other hair styling products are all culprits. Always make sure you clean your ears after using these products. Think of and treat your ears as you would your face.

There are different treatments you can use to get rid of pimples in ear. Mild to moderate cases can be comfortably handled at home. However, if you have several pimples in ear that are painful, it is recommended that you visit a doctor. If you decide to use home remedies to cure ear acne, it is important to note that patience is key.

How to Get Rid Of Painful Pimples in Ear

Popping pimples can cause ear discharge and infections
Popping pimples can cause ear discharge and infections
  • You should never touch pimples in ear without washing your hands. Dirty hands may worsen the situation
  • Wash your face and ears twice a day and every time you exercise. Wash your ears with soap and water and allow the area to dry up before you can apply any topical medications.
  • Apply salicylic acid to your ear with a cotton swab. Choose any other topical applications such as benzoyl peroxide to combat excess oil production that can cause acne
  • You can also wipe the pimple with alcohol pad
  • You can also wipe the area with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel. It is an effective natural disinfectant
  • Never pop or squeeze ear pimples, they can cause ear infections
  • Always clean your ears not forgetting the area behind your ears
  • Soak a soft washcloth in warm water and hold it against the eat to relieve ear pain
  • If the pimple is on the earlobe or in ear cartilage you can apply acne cream or ointment gel such as Neosporin to dry up and heal the pimple
  • Keep your hair clean and wear it in a style that does not cover the ears
  • Most of all, the best treatment option for ear pimples is to let them heal on their own

Most pimples will resolve on the own even without treatment. You can however reduce pain symptoms by taking pain reliever such as ibuprofen. Avoid scratching or touching the pimple. If the painful ear pimple does not resolve within a week, you should see doctor for better diagnosis and treatment. It could be a boil that requires manual draining of fluid and administration of antibiotics.

Home Remedies to Treat Sore Pimples in Ear

  • Tea tree oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Black tea
  • Saline solution

Painful Pimple behind Ear

The ear canal is not the only area affected by painful ear pimples. Pimples behind the ear are also quite common. Being in constant contact with your hair, telephone receivers and headphones, this is another area that is commonly affected by ear pimples. If these things are not cleaned from time to time they can harbor and carry bacteria to the area around the area.

When cleaning the ears, remember to clean the skin on your earlobes or behind the ears too. Clean your telephone receiver and handset. Change your pillows from time to time and be sure to clean your hair regularly to prevent accumulation of oil and dirt behind the ears. Avoid using greasy hair products which may aggravate acne.


  1. I don’t know whats wrong but I whenever I touch my ear or try to clean it it hurts badly and also when I eat like the right of my jaw hurts and it’s also when its touched aswell.

  2. I have the same problem as Natalie, my pimple or whatever it is, is in the inside of my ear and any time I chew on the right side my jaw hurt and the pimple makes basically my whole ear hurt, does this clear up naturally or do I have to pop it, if somebody knows please tell me

  3. I think it is best to see a doctor in your case. A Pimple that makes your jaw hurt on chewing needs to be checked out. Even it turns out to be nothing serious, it doesn’t hurt to be sure. DO NOT pot it

  4. I got mine to pop and had been pulling puss out for a few days after. But Now even a week later i still have a bump in my ear. It is not painful though. Should I still wait for it to just go down or do i need to see some one. I don’t want gang green. I don’t have insurance though and don’t want to have to spend money on a dr for no reason. I have put hydro peroxide in my ear. So Should i wait a week?

  5. Picking on the pimple will make it even more swollen. It doesn’t hurt… give it time.

  6. I have the symptoms of a pimple in my left ear canal. The pain is not acute but is noticeable. I will give my body a week to fight it then I am going to see my doctor.

  7. I had a painful pimple in my ear canal last week. It itched pretty badly and I picked at it. I’m pretty sure the pimple is gone, but now my entire ear hurts so badly. It feels like someone punched me in the side of my head and is sticking something sharp into my ear canal. You’ll probably say to go to the doctor, but could this just be due to bruising? Maybe I was just too touch with it?

  8. Hi Abbey. It could be, but just as you said, I would still advise that you see a doctor. You need to have that ear examined ASAP. In the meantime, try some pain relievers to ease the discomfort.

  9. I recently had a pimple / sis behind my ear. After 3 weeks it didn’t clear up by itself and became painful. I applied pressure and it did pop, but it popped into my ear canal and now I have a bad ear and side of the face infection. Once this happens, you do need to see a doctor, because the bateria is now in your body and you need Amoxacilin. So what ever you do, NEVER try to pop the pimple. Wish I knew this before.

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