A pimple inside the nose can be a minor annoyance or a sign of an infection inside the nose. Understanding the difference and learning how to care for an infected pimple can reduce the likelihood that an infection will spread or worsen.

Your pores can sometimes become blocked with extra oil or dead skin cells. A pimple can occur when oil or dead skin cells start to build up in the pores. While pimples most commonly appear on the face, they can just as easily show up inside the nose.

Those with low immunity or who have diabetes are at higher risk of skin infections. This may make such people more prone to pimples, including those that occur in the nose.

Pores attract more than extra oil. Bacteria can also infiltrate the pore, causing redness, irritation, and inflammation that make a pimple painful and tender. These bacteria can lead to infections, such as nasal vestibulitis and nasal furuncles.

Nasal vestibulitis

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. Certain habits, such as picking your nose or blowing your nose too often, can contribute to folliculitis.

Nasal furuncles and cellulitis

Nasal furuncles are boils, or deeper infections in the nose. This condition is considered more serious because it can lead to cellulitis, a rapidly spreading skin infection that can get into 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) infections all cause cellulitis. MRSA infection is serious because it’s difficult to treat and resistant to many antibiotics. In some cases, it’s even lethal.

Ingrown hairs

A pimple inside the nose may also be the result of an ingrown hair. Some people may get pimples inside the nose after trying certain hair removal methods.

Seek medical help for a pimple inside your nose if you have the following symptoms:

If you have a pimple inside the nose that appears to get worse or more painful with time, see your doctor.

Cavernous sinus thrombosis

Infected pimples inside the nose can be dangerous because some veins in that area lead to the brain. While rare, a condition called cavernous sinus thrombosis can occur. The cavernous sinus is a large vein at the base of the skull. When an infected furuncle in the nose causes a blood clot to form in this vein, thrombosis is the result.

Symptoms of the condition include:

In order to diagnose you, a doctor will ask you several questions about your symptoms, such as:

  • 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 MRI or CT scans 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 bacteria and, if present, determine the type. This allows your doctor to 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 (Centany). Severe infections may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

In rare cases, the infected area may require surgical drainage to prevent swelling.

A variety of at-home treatments are available for pimples inside the nose.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers

Taking an OTC pain reliever may help to ease any pain associated with the pimple inside your nose. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil), which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Warm compresses

Applying warm, moist compresses to your nose can help to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with the pimple. Try using compresses three times per day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Essential oils

Essential oils may also provide relief when applied to the insides of the nostrils.

Before you use any essential oil, make sure you’re not allergic to it. You should also dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil. Avoid the use of full-strength oils.

Essential oils to try for acne include thyme, cinnamon, and rosemary. Tea tree oil and neem oil may also help. Carrier oils to use include olive oil and coconut oil.

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 will prevent a more serious condition from developing.

If you’re feeling a lot of discomfort, however, consider seeing your doctor. They can lance the pimple safely for you.

Avoid picking your nose or blowing your nose too hard or too frequently. Also avoid using unclean hands to touch your nose. This can help prevent irritation to the inside of the nose that could lead to a pimple.

Increasing your intake of vitamin D may also help prevent acne in general. And while stress doesn’t necessarily cause pimples, it may make the condition worse and slow healing. So you may want to try a few stress-relieving techniques if you feel your stress levels rising.

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