Spots in the ears - how to deal with them

Last updated: 8/3/2021

Spots in your ears are annoying. They are, nevertheless, very common for adolescents and men and women of all ages. Why do they occur? And what can you do to get rid of them? Below we have created a short guide on the causes and the best ways to deal with them and prevent them from reoccurring.

Read by Anne Thestrup Meimbresse

Anne, Varde Pharmacy
Anne has a MSc in Pharmacy from the University of Southern Denmark and has worked as a pharmacist at the Varde pharmacy for several years. Here she advises both costumers and doctors about the correct use of medical products.

What are spots in the ears? 

Pimples-  acne- spots- have many names. However, they are all annoying and always seem to appear at the most unfortunate times when you are going to a big party or to an important job interview. But to understand what spots in the ear are, it is important to understand what a ‘spot’ is whatever its size and position.

A spot is a blockage in the normal functioning of the skin and results in a raised, red inflammation appearing as a red area with a yellowish center.

Spots are, in short, an infection that leads to an inflammation of the skin. They can appear in the ear, as well as anywhere else on the body where there are sebaceous glands. Spots in the ear can sit both inside the ear canal, on the ear itself or on the earlobe. When they form inside the ears, they are often most troublesome.

» Find the mentioned products right here

What is the cause of spots in the ear? 

Why do you get spots in your ear? There are various reasons for this outlined below;

Accumulation of sebum and bacteria

The cause of spots in the ear is linked with the skin's production of sebum. When a spot occurs, it is caused by an overproduction of sebum by the skin. All over the skin there are sebaceous glands that keep the skin and hair moisturised and supple. If you didn't have them, your skin would dry out and become irritated. Sebum is a liquid consisting of fat, cholesterol, waxes and triglycerides that all lubricate your skin and hair from the inside. Sebaceous glands and sebum are therefore indispensable for healthy skin.

However, when the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum and oil, the exits from the sebaceous glands can become blocked or restricted, making it difficult for the sebum to exit normally. This leads to the sebum accumulating in the gland as production does not stop even though the sebum cannot leave through the ducts.

If a sebaceous gland becomes clogged due to excess sebum, it becomes vulnerable. The body tries to break down the excess sebum. During this process wastes and fatty acids are formed. These waste products are the perfect food for the bacteria Propionebacterium acnes. As the bacteria multiplies it irritates the gland causing the inflammation and eventually a spot consisting of broken-down sebum and other waste products. This inflammation is the cause of the redness and the ‘waste’ is the yellowish puss that forms under the skin.

Dirt and irritation

Spots in the ear occur because sebaceous glands and pores become clogged with waste, bacteria or dirt, causing the inflammation. When you get spots in your ear, it's often because dirt accumulates there. May be because you forget to wash your ears (as many do) or grease and dirt is transferred from your mobile phone.

Do you listen to music with small in ear ear-phones? These can fill the ear with dirt and bacteria as you take them in and out of your pocket and ears. If you have long hair, it can also increase the bacteria in your ears, particularly if it is oily. You may think that the remedy would be to use cotton buds to keep your ears free of bacteria and dirt but, in fact, they have the opposite effect. Cotton buds can actually irritate the ear. Rather than removing the dirt, the bud will just push it further in. Therefore, cotton swabs can contribute to causing spots in your ears.

Food can be a cause

You may have met people who blame a bowl of chips when a spot appears in the ear, forehead or anywhere else? Many people believe that fatty foods are to blame for spots and pimples. There is some truth in this but no conclusive evidence that burgers, chips and other unhealthy foods directly give you spots. A person who eats a healthy and nutritious diet, can also be affected with congested skin and spots.

However, your skin may react negatively to the large amounts of fat in your diet, which is why it is worth trying to cut down on fatty foods and increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables. It will make you feel healthier and will also help with you skin.

That said, there are actually some foods that may have a negative effect on the skin and can cause spots – even in the ears. Milk, for example, can affect sebum production in the same way that hormones do. Cow's milk contains high levels of hormones and bioactive molecules, which can cause your skin to increase the rate of the production of sebum.

Genetics can give you pimples

Genetics can also play a role when it comes to spots in the ears and anywhere else for that matter.

You're more likely to have problems with spots if your parents did. This may be partly because you may have inherited your mother's or father's elevated levels of the production of sebum or a propensity for clogged pores.

Australian Bodycare Face Kit

4 of the best products to treat congested skin, pimples and blackheads

£40.99

See product

Who is most often affected by spots in the ears?

Do you often get spots in your ear? Then you are definitely not alone. Spots in the ear affect people of all ages and are more widespread than you would think.

Spots during puberty

Although spots can affect people of all ages, they predominently affect young people in their teens. This is because the hormonal balance of teenagers changes as the body goes through puberty. These fluctuations in the hormone balance effect sebum production, and the skin becomes oilier. Often, the problem of spots in the ears disappears or decreases at the age of about 19 years.

Spots in adults

Although spots in the ears and elsewhere on the body are often more of a problem during puberty, it can also occur in adults.

Among other things, a woman can develop congested skin and spots in her ear when pregnant or when she has her period. This, again, is due to changes in hormone levels which can cause the overproduction of sebum and so spots.


Symptoms of spots in the ear 

How do you know if you have a spot in your ear? The symptoms of a spot in the ear appear as a reddish bump on the skin with yellowish pus in the middle. The pimple can be just inside the ear entrance, where you can see the red swelling. However, spots that are further inside the ear sometimes be difficult to see. You may only know it is there because the inside of your ear is painful or aches, especially when you touch it.

How long do the symptoms persist? Most often, the symptoms and spot in the ear are there for some days to weeks, after which the inflammation recedes naturally.


What treatments are available? 

Although spots are a common condition for many people, they are nevertheless annoying. Fortunately, there are lots of good options for treating spots in the ears and elsewhere on the skin, but it does require a little bit of effort on your part.

Keep the bacteria away

Just like with spots everywhere else on the body, it is important to keep skin and ears clean. With Australian Bodycare's Face Care Kit,  you get four products in a single pack that effectively counter spots in your ears and elsewhere on the skin.

Australian Bodycare Face Kit

4 of the best products to treat congested skin, pimples and blackheads

£40.99

See product

All Australian Bodycare products contain natural Australian Tea Tree Oil. With unique skin friendly properties and completely paraben free. The oil gently but effectively counters bacteria and removes excess sebum. The oil creates an antibacterial membrane over the skin, protecting the skin and preventing bacteria penetrating the pores and glands of the skin.

If you notice the first signs of a spot in your ear, you can treat it quickly with the Spot Stick which acts as a highly effective first aid. The Spot Stick immediately relieves the symptoms. Wash your ears with Face Wash every time you are in the shower to keep your ears clean. The Face Wash is fine to be used in the ears, it is gentle and non-drying and it will not irritate your face or ears. Deep cleanse the ear and inner ear with Face Tonic  to keep the pores and gland ducts clear. Finally coat the inside of your ear with the protective membrane by gently rubbing in a little bit of Face Cream.  

Medical treatment

Usually, most spots in the ears can be treated with good skin care and hygiene routines. However, if the problem does not clear up or keeps reoccurring it may require medical treatment with stronger creams or tablets.

In this case, talk to your doctor, who may recommend that you see a specialized dermatologist who can assess which treatment is best for you.


Preventing pimples in the ear - What can I do to pimples in my ear? 

The best treatment for spots in the ear is prevention. There are several ways to do this:

  • Keep the skin in your ears clean with gentle skin friendly products.
  • Do not use cotton swabs to clean your ears.
  • Make sure your hair is clean and avoid hair wax and oils as far as possible.
  • Regularly clean headphones and ear plugs.
  • Minimize the intake of dairy products.
  • Avoid headgear.

Australian Bodycare Face Kit

4 of the best products to treat congested skin, pimples and blackheads

£40.99

See product