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Blackheads are annoying, small clusters of black dots clogging your pores. The dark material that makes up a blackhead isn’t actually dirt, but a mixture of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and darken in color. 
You’ve probably experienced blackheads on your face, nose, or chin at one time or another. Did you know you can get blackheads inside your ears too? Although Bioré products are designed for powerful blackhead removal and prevention on your face, we didn’t want to leave your ears out in the cold! Use this article to figure out what’s causing blackheads in your ears and how to get rid of them.


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What Causes Ear Blackheads?

Blackheads are non-inflammatory acne lesions caused by dead skin cells and oil that get trapped inside your pores. Ears are surprisingly vulnerable to developing blackheads because the skin inside the ear canal is covered with hundreds of tiny hair follicles and glands that produce oil and earwax. If these glands produce too much oil, your skin breaks out and you’re stuck with unsightly acne and blackheads. 
Here are a few ways you could be inviting these annoying imperfections into your ears and some tips to stop blackheads from forming in your ears:

  • Residual Earwax and Grime on Your Earbuds or Headphones: Oil and earwax cling to your earbuds, so clean them off at least once a week and avoid wearing them for long periods of time.
  • Dirt and Bacteria on Your Pillowcase: If you’re struggling with blackheads in your ears, your pillowcase could be to blame. Wash your pillowcase at least once a week to avoid a build-up of bacteria and impurities. These nasties can transfer back onto your skin overnight and cause irritation and acne.
  • Oil and Bacteria from Your Cell Phone: Did you know your cellphone can carry more germs than the average toilet seat? Ew! Invest in a container of disinfecting wipes to clean your phone of germs, grit, grime, and grease.
  • Touching Your Ears: Just like your face, touching your ears too often can cause bacteria from your hands to get into the pores in your ears.

©Artem Varnitsin via

How to Get Rid of Blackheads in Ears

Ear Blackheads happen, but don’t worry, you can kick them to the curb with this easy step-by-step guide:

  1. Find a cleanser with Salicylic Acid. Find a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. This acne-fighting ingredient acts as an exfoliant to dissolve excess oil and dead skin cells on your skin.
  2. Use a cotton ball to carefully clean the skin on your ears. Take a clean cotton ball and saturate it with your salicylic acid cleanser. Gently rub your ears with the cotton ball, focusing on the area with blackheads. To keep the cleanser from dripping, tilt your ear to the side being careful not to let the solution enter your inner ear. Let it soak for about 10 seconds (or follow the instructions on the package).
  3. Thoroughly rinse off the cleanser with a clean cotton ball. The skin on your ears is sensitive. So, you might need to take time to build up a tolerance to salicylic cleanser. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after each application. To gently remove the cleanser, take a second clean cotton ball, saturate it with warm water, and rinse your ear to neutralize the cleanser.
  4. Cleanse your skin daily. For best results, repeat these steps once or twice daily. After about a week, you may start to notice a reduction in the size and number of blackheads in your ears.

©Artem Varnitsin via

At Home Treatments for Ear Blackheads

Here are a few ways you can get rid of ear blackheads in the comfort of your home:

  • Use a deep cleaning clay mask. For extra cleansing, try a nutrient-rich, deep cleaning clay mask. These masks gently draw out impurities by absorbing excess oil that can cause blackheads.
  • Try a facial cleanser. Facial cleansers often contain salicylic acid and may be used as an alternative to glycolic acid, which can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Salicylic acid is a blackhead’s worst nightmare. It exfoliates inside pores to help loosen clogs and allow the body’s natural oils to flow more freely.
  • Apply witch hazel toner. For ear blackheads, look for a witch hazel toner to cleanse and disinfect the skin around your ears. Witch hazel is a common ingredient in cleansers, toners, and even pore strips due to its powerful disinfecting properties! Apply toner to the skin around your ears to control oil and deep clean your pores.

Professional Treatments to Get Rid of Ear Blackheads

For severe cases of blackheads in your ears, it may be time to call in the professionals. An extraction procedure is relatively simple and non-invasive. A dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon uses a blackhead extractor tool to remove the build-up trapped under your skin in your ear. This is a unique tool designed to remove toxins from the surface of your skin without causing significant damage.


How to Prevent Ear Blackheads

The best way to prevent future blackheads is to keep your ears clean and free of excess oil. Here are a few tips for keeping your ears squeaky clean and blackhead free:

  • Wash your ears daily with a clean, warm washcloth and mild salicylic cleanser. 
  • If you have long hair and don’t wash it every day, use a dry shampoo to keep oils from transferring into the ears.
  • Keep unwashed hair tied back to prevent excess oil from getting into your ears.
  • Stop touching your ears throughout the day to avoid triggering a breakout.
  • Wash anything and everything that touches your ears, like earbuds, cell phones, fingers, pillowcases, etc. 
  • Only use lotions and sunscreens that are specially formulated not to clog pores.

Extra Tips for Getting Rid of Ear Blackheads

To avoid blackheads from forming, or getting worse, follow these tips:

  • Don’t pick at or squeeze the blackheads in your ears, this can lead to inflammation, bleeding, infection, and scarring.
  • Don’t apply acne products more than recommended, this can overdry your skin, lead to an overproduction of oil, and may actually make your acne and blackheads worse.
  • When applying sunscreen or lotion to your ears, use noncomedogenic products. These types of products are specially formulated to avoid clogging pores. 

Key Takeaways

  • Blackheads are annoying, but you don’t have to live with them!
  • Clean ears once or twice daily with salicylic acid to loosen clogged pores.
  • Sanitize anything that touches your ears like earbuds, pillowcases, cell phones every few days to avoid a build-up of bacteria, oils, grit, and grime.
  • Say ‘no!’ to picking and popping blackheads in ears, which can lead to inflammation, bleeding, infection and scarring.
  • If you have severe blackheads in your ears, talk to your dermatologist about prescription medication or professional extractions. 

The Best Way to Get Rid of That Painful Pimple in Your Ear

pimple in ear

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What’s worse than a new pimple forming? Trying to get rid of it, of course. Those pesky, painful pus-filled bumps always seem to appear in the most inconvenient places—on your faceyour back, and yes, sometimes even in your ear.

While a pimple in your ear may not feel like a huge deal at first, those suckers can hurt a lot. But why exactly does ear acne form in the first place? And more importantly, how can you get rid of it ASAP? Here, a dermatologist explains how to deal with them and find relief fast.

First, what causes a pimple in your ear?

Ear pimples can come in all shapes and sizes. You may be dealing with tiny blackheads, whiteheads, or red and tender bumps. Either way, don’t freak out too much. A pimple inside your ear is usually not a sign of improper cleanliness or anything dangerous, explains Susan Bard, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology Specialists.


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“It usually starts with a clogged pore and it’s not uncommon to have that in the bowl of the ear,” she says. This is known as the conchal bowl, or the round and hollow part that leads to your ear canal.

Something as basic as oily skin can can lead to a pimple in your ear. But if you’re predisposed to certain conditions like dandruff—which can also occur behind the bowl of the ear in addition to your scalp—it can can cause flaking and lead to clogged pores, Dr. Bard says.

Why are pimples inside your ear so painful?

If you’ve had an ear pimple before, then you know how uncomfortable they can be—but they’re rarely dangerous when allowed to heal properly. The pimple is not likely to cause an ear infection and the pus is not going to sneakily make its way down into your ear drum.

“[Ear pimples] are very painful because the skin is more taut there, and more importantly there’s cartilage there,” Dr. Bard says. “Any time there’s inflammation around cartilage, such as around the nose or the ear, it’s always very painful.”

How to get rid of a pimple in your ear

The best thing you can do is take a hands-off approach. Just leave it alone, says Dr. Bard.

However, she also admits that 9 out of 10 of her patients don’t follow that recommendation. So if the pimple is truly painful and has come to a very obvious head (say, it’s very white in the center), you can use two Q-tips to pop it, says Dr. Bard, to ensure that the process is sanitary. Only target areas you can actually see—anything deep inside your ear shouldn’t be touched by anyone but your dermatologist.

Avoid using your hands if you can. When people use their fingers, they tend to apply more force, says Dr. Bard. Plus, your nail can cause more trauma to the ear and dig bacteria deeper into your skin if you haven’t washed your hands properly. This can increase your risk of infection.

If the pimple isn’t at a head, but you’re in desperate need of immediate relief, Dr. Bard recommends using warm compresses or acne spot treatments containing benzoyl peroxide, since they fight acne-causing bacteria. Retinoid based products, like Differin Adapalene Gel Acne Treatment, can also help speed the healing process, she says. If you have facial acne and already havea salicylic acid treatment at home, you can try that as well, but it’s not as effective and tends to be more mild.

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