Pimple in the Ear

Though uncommon, a pimple may sometimes erupt in the ear. The location of the pimple may be the outer ear (pinna), the ear canal. The softer part, lobule, is rarely involved.

How Is the Pimple Caused?

The ear canal keeps secreting adequate amount of oily fluid. This fluid is essential to keep the canal well lubricated. This oily secretion is pushed out of the ear on a regular basis. We call this ear wax.

A pimple gets formed when any duct draining this oily fluid gets blocked. This happens if the fluid being secreted is excessive, or there is accumulation of dirt, dead cells or tissue debris in the canal.

The blocked duct doesn’t let the fluid come out. Hence, the secretions keep collecting inside and a pimple gets formed.

Pimples in the ear Are Prone to Infections.

We tend to scratch anything that appears foreign inside the ear canal. This is a natural tendency and has a protective role. This is to prevent any bug/ insect from entering the ear canal.

When we scratch the pimple inside the ear canal, germs enter it from under our nails. This particularly happens in children, who tend to scratch the ear canal more commonly.

As the germs enter the canal, it gets infected. The pimple then becomes red and painful. Sometimes, pus gets collected inside it.

Infected Pimple vs Furuncles

Boils or furuncles are common inside the ear canal. They are caused when any fine hair present inside the ear canal gets pulled. The hair follicle gets infected.

The lesion looks much similar to the infected pimple. It is a red, swollen bump which may have pus inside it.

We need to differentiate the two lesions, to be able to deal with it better.

Blackheads and Whiteheads

Some people get a lot of blackheads or whiteheads over their ear. Commonly, the outer ear is affected.

Blackheads need to be removed. They may be seen as pimple cousins or sometimes pimple precursors.

The best way to remove them is wiping your ear each time after you have a hot shower. The skin pores are slightly opens at this time. So, just wiping the area may remove such lesions.


Our ear canal is richly supplied with nerve endings. So, pimples erupting here are usually very painful.

A simple pimple, which has no sign of infection, that is no pain, no redness, may be left as such. There are good chances that it would go away on its own with time.
An infected pimple that is painful needs antibiotic treatment as soon as possible. Start applying a topical antibiotic, like mupirocin ointment, over the pimple. Apply it thrice daily for a week.

If pus is visible, its drainage is essential. This may be done by first softening the pimple by doing warm compresses. As the outer covering of the pimple becomes soft, pus may drain out of it gradually.

Preventing Pimples

The idea is to not let the gland ducts get blocked. This may be achieved by keeping the ear canal clean and supple.

  • The best time to clean the canal is after a hot shower.
  • Take a soft cotton bud (Johnson’s ear bud) and gently clean the ear canal and outside of the ear with it. Now, mildly moisturize the outer ear skin with a moisturizer.
  • The ear canal doesn’t need to be moisturized.
  • Regular cleaning would assure that dirt or tissue debris does not accumulate in the region and pimple formation can be prevented.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Pimple in the Ear

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