A pimple inside the nose can be a minor annoyance or a sign of an infection inside the nose. Understanding the difference, and how to care for an infected pimple, can reduce the likelihood that an infection will spread or worsen.
Your skin is covered with many pores, which are tiny openings that usually house hair follicles. Underneath the surface, your pores contain an oil-producing gland known as a sebaceous gland. These glands make oil known as sebum that helps to keep the skin and hair soft.
Sometimes the pores can become blocked with extra oil or dead skin cells. When they start to build up in the pores, a pimple can occur. While pimples most commonly appear on the face, they can just as easily pop up inside the nose.
Pores don’t always attract only extra oil. Bacteria can also infiltrate into the pore, causing redness, irritation, and inflammation that make a pimple painful and tender. These bacteria can cause infections, such as nasal vestibulitis and nasal furuncles.
Nasal vestibulitis is also known as folliculitis. This condition can cause a red, inflamed bump or a collection of red or white bumps, usually at the nostril openings. Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria are a common cause of folliculitis. Habits, such as picking your nose or blowing your nose too often, can contribute to folliculitis.
Nasal furuncles are boils or deeper infections in the nose. This condition is considered more serious because it can lead to cellulitis. Cellulitis is a rapidly spreading skin infection that can spread to your bloodstream. The condition causes skin dimpling, swelling, and red areas of inflammation. In some instances, cellulitis can be deadly. Staph, streptococcus, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) all cause cellulitis. MRSA infection is a serious infection because it’s difficult to treat and resistant to many antibiotics; it is even lethal in some cases.
Infected pimples inside the nose can be dangerous because veins inside the nose can lead to the brain. While rare, a condition called cavernous sinus thrombosis can occur. This results when an infected furuncle in the nose causes a blood clot to form in a large vein at the skull’s base, known as the cavernous sinus. Symptoms of the condition include:
- pain or headache
- difficulty seeing
- bulging eyes
- double vision and eye pain
- uneven pupils
- abnormally high fever
Seek medical help for a pimple inside your nose if you have the following symptoms:
- difficulty seeing or double vision
- a red, swelling, and painful rash accompanied by a fever
- sudden confusion
- uneven pupils
If you have a pimple inside the nose that appears to get worse or more painful with time, see your doctor.
A doctor will ask you several questions about your symptoms. These include:
- What did the pimple look like when you first noticed it? How has it changed?
- What symptoms have you noticed related to the pimple inside your nose?
- When did you notice the pimple?
- Has any blood or pus oozed out from the pimple?
A doctor will also conduct a physical exam of your pimple. Imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) of the head can help identify possible signs of infection inside the sinuses.
Your doctor may also take a sample of your blood and possibly a sample of the fluid inside the pimple. A laboratory can test this sample for its bacteria type. If bacteria are present, a doctor can prescribe the appropriate antibiotic.
Treatment for a pimple inside the nose depends on its cause. Traditional acne pimples will likely go away with at-home care and time. A bacterial infection is commonly treated with antibiotics. This includes the application of antibiotic ointments, such as bacitracin or mupirocin. Severe infections may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics.
In rare cases, the infected area may require surgical drainage to prevent swelling.
Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may help to relieve pain associated with the pimple inside your nose. This includes ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Applying warm, moist compresses to your nose between 15 and 20 minutes, three times per day can help to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with the pimple.
Picking, scratching, or attempting to pop the pimple can make the pore more vulnerable to bacterial infection. Allowing the pimple to heal without disrupting it is important to prevent a more serious condition.
Avoid picking your nose or blowing your nose too hard or too frequently. This can help prevent irritation to the inside of the nose that could lead to a pimple.