Pimples on your Earlobe

Pimples on your ear can be annoying. They can be hard to see and slightly painful. They can cause pain when you’re wearing glasses, styling your hair, or sleeping on your side. Fortunately, there are some home remedies and treatments that may give you relief.

What causes a pimple on an earlobe?

If you have a pimple on your earlobe, it’s most likely caused by excess oil, sweat, or dead skin that has built up inside a pore on your ear. When you were young, a parent might have reminded you, “Don’t forget to wash your ears!”

Well, they were offering good advice. Your hair and skin naturally produces oil that can cause pimples and acne. If you aren’t washing regularly, the oil can build up on your ears, possibly resulting in pimples. This is completely normal.

Certain irritants can further contribute to causing pimples:

  • Tight headwear. Tight headwear such as a hat or scarf can trap sweat and oils against your head and ears. The build of oils can cause pimples to form in the hairline, face, or ears.
  • StressStress can cause excessive sweating and/or changes in your hormones which contributes to oil production.
  • Allergic reactionsAllergic reactions to food, medicines, or metals can cause pimples to appear on your skin. If you’re experiencing other uncomfortable symptoms of an allergic reaction, discuss it with your doctor.
Treating earlobe pimples

Treating earlobe pimples is very similar to treating pimples on other locations of your body. Try your best to leave the area alone and let the pimple heal with time. There are actions that you can take to help your pimple heal properly:

  1. Don’t pick or pop your pimple.
  2. Refrain from touching your pimple.
  3. Clean the area gently with nonirritating soaps.
  4. Refrain from using irritating hair or skin products.
  5. Use anti-acne medication, lotions, or washes with caution as they may cause dry skin.

If your pimple doesn’t improve on its own, you may need to consider professional extraction or surgery.

Pimple and ear piercing

Sometimes an ear piercing can become infected. This may cause a pimple or an infected mass in the earlobe. This can be due to:

  • dirty piercing equipment
  • reaction to metal
  • bacterial infection from handling the new piercing

If you think you have an infected ear piercing, you should remove the earring with clean hands. Apply antibacterial ointment to the area and consult the directions given from your piercing technician for cleaning.

If the infection doesn’t begin to clear up in a few days, consult with your doctor. 

Maybe it’s not a pimple

If you’re unsure if the bump on your ear lobe is a pimple, monitor yourself for additional symptoms and consult a medical professional to determine what it might be. Here are some of the other conditions that could be mistaken for a pimple.

Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts appear as a lump and usually without a head. If the lesion on your ear doesn’t have a head and hasn’t healed, it may be a cyst. Cysts are typically filled with pus that’s whitish and has an unpleasant smell. Typically, these cysts must be surgically drained.


If you have experienced some sort of trauma on your earlobe, your “pimple” may be a keloidKeloids are scar tissue and are usually caused by trauma like a burn, skin piercing, acne, or other small lesion.


Folliculitis is characterized by a grouping of red bumps or pimples. You may be experiencing itching or tenderness. Folliculitis ranges from mild to severe and is typically caused by staphylococcus bacteria. If you’re experiencing regular or severe symptoms, consider visiting your doctor.

The pimple on your earlobe won’t pop

Don’t pick at or try to pop the pimple on your earlobe. If you’re attempting to pop a pimple and it won’t pop, it may not have come to a head yet or it may be a deep infection that could mean it isn’t a pimple but a cyst or an abscess.

If you have a cyst, you may need to have it surgically removed. A doctor will usually lance the cyst and extract the pus or cystic contents. If you suspect you have a cyst, make an appointment with your doctor. Don’t attempt to perform cystic surgery at home.

Bottom Line:

While pimples are very common, a pimple on your earlobe can be uncomfortable. If you have a pimple on your earlobe, be sure to keep the area clean and free of irritants. If your pimple doesn’t go away or is causing extreme discomfort, contact a doctor or dermatologist who will examine your earlobe and offer treatment options.

Written by Tessa Sawyers — Updated on July 31, 2018
Mahmood NF, et al. (2017). The age-old problem of acne.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Folliculitis.
Metts J. (2002). Common complications of body piercing.
Ogawa R. (2017). Keloid and hypertrophic scars are the result of chronic inflammation in the reticular dermis.
Sempowski I. Sebaceous cysts. (2006).

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