If you’re human you’ve likely had a pimple on your nose, but what’s more annoying than a pimple on your nose is getting a pimple inside your nose. Can anyone see it? Nope. But, you bet it is irritating and, in some cases, painful. Considering its location, you might wonder if this breakout requires a different course of action: Is it safe to use a spot treatment inside the nostril? Is there any way to prevent an inner-nose pimple from happening in the first place?
The short answer: Don’t mess with it. And definitely don’t try to pop or pick an a pimple inside your nose. You typically shouldn’t pick at the pimples on your face either, but that’s a different story. For all these answers on what to do for a pimple inside your nose, keep reading for exactly what Dermatologists say to do.
A pimple inside your nose forms for the same reasons as any other pimple.
“Oil glands are located throughout the body, including around and inside the nose. If an oil gland becomes blocked, a pimple can develop,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at The Mount Sinai Hospital. The blockage can occur due to build up of oil or dead skin cells, adds Gary Goldenberg, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
What looks like a nose zit may actually be something else entirely, like a cold sore…
You could actually have a cold sore (yep, they can pop up basically anywhere, not just your lips!), which can look like a pimple, says Goldenberg. While they’re tricky to tell apart (especially if it’s inside your nose), it’s likely a cold sore if it keeps showing up in that same spot and scabs up hardcore as it heals.
If it seems like you might be in cold sore territory—they tend to be more tender and painful, and go away in three to five days—you can try applying an antiviral cream (such as Abreva), he says.
Folliculitis is an infection that happens when a hair follicule gets infected with staph bacteria and causes redness and swelling, says Dr. Zeichner. Folliculitis bumps look a look like acne (they’re small, white bumps) and fun fact: they can also show up on your booty. Yay. “Staph bacteria like to live in the moist environment inside the nostrils and sometimes can infect the follicles,” he explains.
If you suspect you might have folliculitis, which looks like small red bumps or white-headed pimples around a nose hair follicle, you’ll want to put OTC bacitracin ointment (like Neosporin) on it, Zeichner says. If it doesn’t get better, see a dermatologist—you may need a prescription antibiotic.
Benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are good ingredients to seek out.
“Whether a pimple forms in the nose or on any other part of the body…salicylic acid helps dry out a pimple and benzoyl peroxide lowers levels of acne-causing bacteria to reduce inflammation,” Dr. Zeichner says. “The earlier you treat the developing pimple, the sooner it will heal.”
Just one caveat: Make sure the skin you’re applying product to is near the outer part of the nostril, Dr. Zeichner emphasizes. “I do not recommend attempting to treat any pimples that you cannot see,” he says. “Acne medications can lead to more irritation in sensitive skin areas like inside the nose, as compared to skin on the face. If you develop redness, itching, or irritation you may need to discontinue use.
What To Use To Treat Your Nose Pimple
There are a few things you can do to try to prevent this from ever happening again.
If you find that you’re prone to inner-nose pimples, it could be helpful to gently wash the area like you do the rest of your face and spot-treat anything that crops up, Goldenberg says. If you’ve got a cold sore that won’t quit, you may need to get a on a low-dose antiviral (prescribed by your derm or primary-care doc) to help keep things under control, he says.
Folliculitis should clear up with antibiotic cream. But in more severe cases, it can become a full-blown staph infection—which needs chronic maintenance to keep from coming back, says Goldenberg. He recommends trying antibacterial cleansers to help reduce the staph bacteria in the area, which lowers the risk of that infection returning.And, worst-case scenario, you might have to go on antibiotics for a period of time to totally kill the infection—which again, would require a visit to your doc.
Whatever you do, do NOT pick the pimple.
Pimples located inside the nose “tend to be deep in the skin and picking inevitably leads to more harm than good,” Dr. Zeichner says. “If the pimple is not improving with topical treatments then visit your dermatologist for professional treatment. You should also visit your dermatologist if the temple becomes large, warm, or painful.” That goes for a pimple inside your nose or anywhere else on your bod.
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