I can’t decide if a pimple inside the nose is my worst-case acne scenario…or kinda my best-case scenario. On one hand, you can’t see it (like a blind pimple), and because it’s so hard to reach, it also stops you from messing with it and trying to pop your zit. On the other, a pimple inside your nose hurts. Like, really hurts. And for that simple fact alone, you’ll want to get rid of a pimple inside your nose immediately—which is probs why you’re here right now.
Though there’s definitely a way to treat that zit in your nose, Treating a pimple here is totally different than treating, say, body acne or back acne. So before you go slathering some acne spot treatments up your nostril, you’ll want to read the below first.
Meet the expert
Neda Mehr, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Pure Dermatology Cosmetic and Hair Center in Newport Beach, CA. Dr. Mehr is also the creator of clean medical skincare line DermBx. Neal Schultz, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Park Avenue Skincare in New York, NY, and the founder of skincare line BeautyRx. Dr. Schultz has previously spoken to Cosmo about the topic of getting rid of a pimple. Shereene Idriss, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology in New York, NY. Dr. Idriss, aka Pillowtalk Derm, is also a clinical instructor in dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Idriss has previously spoken to Cosmo about the topic of clogged pores.
Why do I have a pimple inside my nose?
Clogged pores on the outside of your nose are pretty common because it’s such an oily area of the face. Board-certified dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, previously explained to Cosmo, “With increased oil production, there tends to be more dirt.” And when you get a pore clogged up with dirt, oil, and debris, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up wtih a pimple or blackhead.
But what about pimples inside your nose? According to board-certified dermatologist Neda Mehr, MD, how it happens is pretty much the same. “We have hairs in our nose, so just like anywhere on our body, bacteria track through the hair follicle, and they go down to the inside world,” Dr. Mehr explains. Because this is the inside of your nose we’re talking about, the specific triggers are a little different, so here are a few common contributors:
Allergies Dr. Mehr says the active force from constantly blowing or rubbing your nose can cause bacteria to go inside. “When that happens, it is similar to an acne, where we have bacteria where it shouldn’t be, so the body mounts an immune response, inflammation, redness, and pain,” she says. Nose trimming or plucking Whether you tweeze your nose hairs or use a trimmer with little razors on the inside of your nose, Dr. Mehr says messing with the hair can give you an ingrown and cause the problem. Picking your nose Even if you don’t pick your nose for gold (sureeee), sticking your finger up there for whatever reason can introduce bacteria hiding under your nail to the skin in this area, and voilà. A pimple inside your nose.
How do I get rid of a pimple inside my nose?
Typically, when you’re treating acne, you’re told to try all the usual heavy hitters, like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol, and for pimples on the outside of your nose area, those might work great. But if you’ve ever felt the inside of your nose (since you’ve got a pimple up there, I’m assuming you have), you’ve probably noticed how different the skin is on the underside of your nostril.
Basically, the skin outside your nose has an epidermal border, meaning it has a top layer of the squamous cell that protects the outside from getting in. But the inside? Not so much. “Our nose cavity on the inside doesn’t have that epidermal,” Dr. Mehr explains, “It’s straight mucosa, meaning it’s mostly just the inside world.”
So what does that mean for you and your nose pimple? Skip all the usual acne products, and try the below home remedies instead.
Use a warm compress. “Warm compresses can reduce swelling and bring bacteria to the surface of the skin,” board-certified dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD, previously told Cosmo. Since your nostril is too small to stick a whole washcloth up there, Dr. Mehr suggests running a few cotton swabs under warm water. Take one wet cotton swab, hold it to one side, then the clean side, and repeat again. Apply an ointment. The next step on the list is to use an over-the-counter bacitracin ointment (a topical antibiotic), and reapply it three times a day. “What that does is sterilize the top layer of skin cells,” Dr. Mehr explains. Leave it alone. After you’ve tried steps one and two, hands off. Dr. Mehr stresses the importance of keeping it simple and gentle.
How long does it take for a pimple in the nose to go away?
Follow the above “skincare routine” and apply the ointment three times a day for three to ten days. Dr. Mehr says if it’s persisting longer than a few days, and it’s causing severe pain or pain that you’re feeling it in other parts of your face, there’s a chance it’s turned into a boil. In this case, you should go see your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor to lance it, which means cut it and drain it. Oof.
Less is more, people! If you suspect you got the pimple inside your nose from tweezing your nose hairs, maybe don’t do that anymore. But if it’s from something that you can’t avoid, like blowing your nose, use a warm compress, apply an OTC bacitracin ointment, and let it be. And if it gets worse, get off the internet, and go see your doctor.