Pimple in the Ear – Symptoms, Causes, and Management

A blocked pore in the skin of the ear can form a painful, pus-filled bump called an ear pimple. These can be whiteheads, blackheads, or tender and red lumps. A pimple in the ear is quite painful and uncomfortable but is rarely harmful if it is allowed to heal properly.


The most common symptom is severe pain and discomfort but other associated conditions are as follows:

  • Painful red bump
  • A whitehead or a blackhead
  • Pus-filled lump
  • Discharge from the lesion
  • Itching and irritation around the pimple
  • Temporary deafness


A pimple in the ear can form due to several reasons:

  • Whitehead forms when a pore gets clogged by sebum and bacteria begin to grow in the pores, infecting it.
  • A blackhead is formed when the sebum clogging the pore is exposed to air and it starts to turn black.
  • The build-up of dead skin in the ear can also lead to acne in the ears.

Risk factors

Almost anyone can get acne in the ears but certain conditions put you more at risk of developing a pimple. Some of these are:

  • Oily skin
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress
  • Sharing earbuds or other hygiene items
  • Swimming
  • Infected ear piercings
  • Allergic reaction to products


A pimple rarely requires treatment but if it is not allowed to heal properly, the infection can complicate a mere pimple into something dangerous as an abscess. Some complications are:

  • Carbuncle formation
  • Abscess formation
  • Granuloma formation

Popping an ear pimple

No, popping a pimple on your own is not a good idea at all. This allows bacteria from the discharge to gain entry deeper into the pores. A pimple can complicate into an abscess or boil. The scab formation followed by pimple popping leads to the development of a scar that doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing.

Other conditions that resemble an ear pimple

A pimple results due to the build-up of dead skin cells, bacteria, and excessive oil production. This is smaller in size than a boil. Some other similar lesions are :

  • A boil, bacterial infection of a hair follicle or sebum gland due to damage to the skin. This results in the formation of pus-filled, hard-to-touch, and painful lumps under the skin.
  • Keloid is a reddish-purple nodule that forms on the scar tissue, usually in the piercing.
  • Epidermoid cysts are small bumps that form just beneath the skin.
  • Basal cell carcinoma is often mistaken as a persistent pimple.


Pimple is unpredictable but a few measures can be taken to reduce the chances of breaking out:

  • Keep your ear dry and clean
  • Use a pH balanced cleanser
  • Clean and disinfect your earbuds and headsets regularly
  • Avoid using any tight head wears
  • Do not pop a pimple


A pimple can be easily treated by a conservative and medical approach depending upon the extent of infection.


Your doctor will take a look at the bump and examine to rule out other possible lesions such as an abscess, keloid, or boil. This will be graded as mild, moderate, or severe and a treatment plan will be advised accordingly.

Medical treatment

The treatment plan depends upon the size and state of the pimple. Some treatment options include:

  • Topical vitamin A derived medications
  • Benzoyl peroxide ointment for a pimple that hasn’t popped yet
  • An antibiotic in case of an infected lesion

Surgical treatment

A pimple that does not heal can be professionally extracted. A dermatologist takes adequate aseptic measures before popping the pimple and all the pus is drained.

Home remedies

  • Use warm compresses on the pimple
  • Use retinoid creams
  • Tea tree oil is used to decrease the inflammation
  • Honey and cinnamon can also help alleviate acne due to their antimicrobial properties
  • Turmeric is considered a recuperative agent and an anti-inflammatory for acne

When to consult a doctor?

If the pimple does not resolve within a couple of weeks or you start experiencing fever, vomiting, and nausea with it. Also if you’re pimple is recurrent you should seek medical advice.


Why do pimples in the ear hurt so much?

Due to the lack of fat and the presence of cartilage right under the skin, the pimples in the ear are very painful.

How long does an ear pimple last?

Pimple in ear takes 7 to 14 days to resolve completely.

Can a pimple in the ear cause hearing loss?

Only if the pimple is causing obstruction in your ear canal, it can cause temporary hearing loss.

Last medically reviewed on October 18, 2021.