Blackheads in Ear: Causes and How To Get Rid of Them

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Why do I have blackheads in my ears or how can I get rid or remove them? Get insight on causes  (i.e. on the earlobe, behind, inside the canal or on the cartilage) as well as the best ways to get rid of them.

Overview

Blackheads refer to “small bumps that appear on your skin due to clogged hair follicles” [healthline.com] and they are referred so because their head often looks black or dark in color.  They form or develop if your hair follicle is clogged or has a plug.

These mild acne types are a kind of acne common on the T-zone part of the face but can also affect other body parts including your chest, neck, arm, shoulders, back among other parts of the body.

In terms of composition, they are made up of dead skin cells and sebum (skin oil from sebaceous glands). When these dead skin cells and oil collect on the hair follicle opening they form blackheads – kinds of bumps known as comedones.

Ears develop them too since both outer and canal have hair follicles. They can affect various part of your ear including your earlobe, cartilage,  behind, in the canal or even near your piercing site. However, they are not so common in this area doesn’t have hair follicles. 

Who can get them?

This problem can affect anyone, men, and women, adults or children. I have seen cases of blackheads in ear children i.e. I once found my dermatologists removing a big blackhead from toddler’s ear, something I did not expect.

However, people who have other kinds of acne, those with oily skin, undergoing hormonal change especially during puberty are more prone to them. 

Causes

You know what causes blackheads as well as how they are formed. However, there are some factors that can increase the probability of one having not just them alone but also acne. These factors include:

  • Excessive skin oil production
  • Having propionibacterium acne on your ears
  • Hair follicle irritation especially when your dead skin does not shed off well regular
  • Hormonal changes especially during menstruation, while using birth control pills or at puberty often trigger increased oil production
  • The use of some medications especially androgens, lithium, and corticosteroids can increase their appearance.

There is a common belief that foods and drinks, especially dairy products and carbohydrates can increase them. There is no scientific backing to this belief.

How to get rid of them

Having them which are can make your ears to appear dirty as well as make your pores more visible. If you have them and you happen not to like them, we are going to see some of the best ways to get rid of them effectively.

Note that, although they clear on their own, they can also be a gateway to infections. This is a reason enough to want to ensure you do not have them.

1. Try a comedo extractor tool

If you want to get rid of them in your ear fast, consider using a blackhead extractor. This tool can is more effective and faster and causes lesser skin damage compared to squeezing with your fingers. However, get a professional to help you since you might not be able to see your ear very well.

2. Dermabrasion

If you have a serious case, microdermabrasion might be recommended where your skin is sanded with a rough surface to remove the clog that might be causing this problem. It is a fast method that will give immediate results.

However, if the in the ear canal, let an expert scrap them off with a specialized microdermabrasion wand such as the “diamond-tip microdermabrasion wand [allure.com].

3. Over the counter medication

Try the various OTC medications that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol or salicylic acid to treat and help dry the excess oil you produce, kill bacteria and encourage dead skin cells shedding.

As Ellen Marmur, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, recommends, “applying a retinol to the area with a cotton swab, using gentle, circular motions… The retinol will prevent dead skin cells from building up in your pores, which in turn will prevent blackheads” [allure.com].

4. Prescribed medication

Another treatment to try is prescription strength tropical vitamin A containing medications to stop plugs from forming such as “such as tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene keep plugs from forming in the hair follicles and promote more rapid turnover of skin cell” [healthline.com] can also be recommended for those that contain antibiotics and/or benzoyl peroxide. They will be effective but might not give you overnight results such as physical removal could.

DIY Steps to remove them

To make their removal easy, here are some steps which you can follow while you are at home. They will only apply if the those on the outer ear.

Step 1: Cleanse your it with a mild acne wash

With a mild acne wash, cleanse them to remove dirt, wax, dead skin cell and oil from your ear hair and skin and rinse off with warm water. This will give you a clearer view of the blackhead you want to remove.

Step 2: Apply warm compress

Apply a warm compress. Press the warm washcloth against a blackhead you want to remove several times to make your pores expand as well as loosen materials clogged in the pore.

Step 3: Soak them alcohol

Soak a cotton swab, ball or pad of alcohol and apply on it to sterilize the area and kill bacteria. Alcohol kills bacteria and gives you a clean surface.

Step 4: Squeeze it

With sterilized latex gloves or a tissue around your index fingers, apply pressure some pressure on either side of your blackhead gently as you squeeze down then up to remove the blocking material. Wipe off the stuff that comes out the popped blackhead.

Step 5: Apply an anti-acne cream

Apply any good anti-acne cream such as benzoyl peroxide to help shrink and heal the pore. This will prevent bacteria entry. You can alternatively use tea tree oil and leave it there overnight

Other methods of removing these nasty acne pimples out of your ear such as chemical peels might not easy to use.

Blackhead removal video

Below is a YouTube showing the popping video which should further help you further. As you can see it is in the ear canal and an extractor tool is being used.

Prevention 

Removing them is not easy. It will be wise to ensure they do not come. Some of the best ways to stop  them, follow the below steps:

1. Clean your ears always

Keep good hygiene by cleaning your ears regularly and removing earwax. Do this after each time you take a shower. This will get rid of excess oil, wax as well as dead skin cells.

2. Exfoliation

Use a cotton ball to blog your canal and exfoliate dead skin with a gentle exfoliating product to get rid of dirt and dead skin cells. You can apply salicylic acid afterward to further help in exfoliation.

3. Ensure you open your pores

Holding a warm washcloth on your ears for about 5 minutes is an easy way to open up your pores to avoid accumulation of oil and dead skin cells.  A lotion such as Biologique Recherche Lotion P50W will be good in exfoliating your top skin layer.

4. Avoid dirt

Stop sticking dirty fingers in your ears and always clean your earphones and cellphone since they are dirty and could be behind the blackheads and acne you always have.

Oil-free products

The final way to reduce their development using oil-free products especially lotions, sunscreens. Also be careful with your hair care products since they can be a reason their development.

When Big and painful

Sometimes, they can be very painful especially if gets infected i.e. infected ones tend to be painful, big or gigantic. Treatment, especially if they are in your canal, might force you to enlist a dermatologist or doctor’s help remove it.

If they hurt so much,  you can soothe the pain by applying a warm compress (i.e. soak a clean washcloth in warm water and apply it) and take OTC pain relievers.

When inside ear canal

It is not just your outer ear that can have them at times, they also form in the ear canal. In fact, anyone can to have them in this part due to the fact that cleaning your canal is not that easy. Furthermore, the chances of dead skin cells accumulating are very high.

If you have this acne type deep in your ear canal, they can be quite difficult to remove even with the various methods we have discussed above. This is because of the fact that the skin here delicate and not easy to access.

Our best advice is to let them resolve on their own unless you have very big and painful ones. In such a case, get experts remove them so as to ensure you do not injure your it or eardrums. Injuring the skin in this area will increase the chances getting infections.

Sources and references
  • http://www.healthline.com/symptom/blackhead
  • http://www.allure.com/beauty-trends/blogs/daily-beauty-reporter/2014/01/how-to-treat-acne-in-your-ears.html

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