You may have had breakouts pop up on your chin, forehead, or cheeks, but what about your ears?
Acne which occurs either in the ear hollow or in the ear canal is rare, but the symptoms can be painful and unsightly to live with.
The good news is that tackling these breakouts is easy to do, provided that you understand why your ear pimples are happening.
We’ll cover more about pimples in the ear in this article, including the causes, treatment, and prevention tactics.
Can You Get Pimples In Your Ear?
If the pores on your skin become blocked, pimples will start to form. These blockages may be due to several factors, like dead skin, bacteria, and oil.
The main two reasons acne occurs are the skin’s inclination to accumulate dead skin cells and oil, and hormones that influence how much oil the skin generates.
Skin areas with larger numbers of oil glands have more chance of experiencing breakouts. This is usually the face, back, and chest, but they can also occur in and around the ears.
In the case of ear acne, another reason why these breakouts may occur is due to occlusion. This refers to cases where the skin becomes clogged and cannot eliminate dead skin cells, causing pimples.
For instance, people that wear eyeglasses may experience pimples where the frames touch the skin, like the nose and around the ears. Glasses can push on the skin, allowing dirt, makeup, and oil to become trapped in the pores.
This can also happen in those that wear earbuds. As the rubber and plastic on your headphones touch the skin, the materials trap clogging substances inside the skin, leading to occlusion.
Cysts, papules, and pimples can start forming as the contents inside the pore start to accumulate. This can also happen as a result of surplus earwax inside the ear, leading to acne in the ear area.
If you experience breakouts in or around your ears a lot, this could be down to your earbuds, or your skin might produce more sebum in this area compared to others.
Remember to consult your dermatologist if you experience painful pimples in the ear area, or any other body part. You might require prescription medication or special treatment. Don’t leave these pimples alone, as they may scar later.
It Might Not Be Acne
You might use earbuds a lot, but if you do notice pimples in your ear, don’t instantly assume that it’s acne. This could be a result of seborrheic dermatitis, a type of rash that can happen in areas with a large number of oil glands.
However, seborrheic dermatitis won’t look like a bump, but you may notice a red or pink rash with flaky areas. It may lead to raised bumps occasionally, which might have some resemblance to a pimple.
Some people may think that they have acne in their ears, but this may be a fungal or staph infection. These symptoms should never be ignored, so if you aren’t 100% sure about what is happening around your ears, notify your dermatologist or doctor before attempting to treat the symptoms at home.
Ear Breakouts: Prevention and Treatment
If you are completely certain that your ear bumps are due to acne, not any other condition, you can begin treatment. Ear acne can be treated with the same methods that can alleviate facial acne.
Apply Standard Acne Treatment
The cleansers used to treat facial breakouts can also treat ear acne. Try to find products with benzoyl peroxide, a substance that can diminish bacteria that cause pimples.
If you are experiencing blackheads instead of whiteheads, it’s best to use treatments with salicylic acid or OTC retinoids.
Salicylic acid can remove sebum and dead skin cells from inside the pores. Retinoids stop skin cells from accumulating and blocking pores, helping to lower skin inflammation.
Use these treatments in the shower, as it can be harder to clean your ears while you wash your face. Create a lather and massage it around the ear.
Never let the lather enter your inner ear, as this can be damaging to the lining. Leave the product to work for around half a minute, then wash away with clean water.
Monitor Earwax Production
Excess earwax can build up and produce occlusive effects. If you do use earbuds or anything similar regularly, this can create a breeding ground for ear pimples.
You may be tempted to use Q-tips to clean inside your ear, but this can have negative effects on your hearing. It’s best to use inner-ear washes or oils specially formulated for this purpose.
Sanitize Your Earbuds Regularly
This is one of the simplest preventative steps you can implement into your routine. Using a clean tissue and a blend of warm water and soap, clean your earbuds before you use them.
You can also purchase disposable towelettes made specifically for this purpose.
Earbuds rarely come out of the ears clean, but cleaning them regularly will remove any oil, bacteria, or earwax leftover from your last wear.
This means that there won’t be as many acne-causing substances affecting your ears when you wear them next.
Keep Up With Your Routine
Maintaining a good skincare routine will help prevent acne from returning. In the case of ear acne, a routine might include cleansers to tackle breakouts, salicylic acid or retinoid products, or spot treatments for application on the go.
Try to avoid comedogenic substances around the ears or on the face. These products contain ingredients that can block the pores, increasing your risk of acne later.
Consult Your Dermatologist
If your ear pimples aren’t mild and are more serious, you will need to see a dermatologist to rule out any severe conditions. Look out for breakouts that are painful or deep inside the skin.
Your dermatologist will assess the area and decide if prescription medication is required, like antibiotics or retinoids.
The Bottom Line
Ear breakouts might be frustrating to deal with, but in most cases, they can be treated easily.
Keeping up with your hygiene and anti-breakout routine is the best way of tackling these breakouts. This may include washing the ears with the right products, cleaning your earbuds regularly, and avoiding comedogenic skincare items.
Just remember to see your dermatologist if these pimples are painful or deep set inside the skin, as these may need special treatment.