Why You Get Pimples Inside Your Nose (And What to Do About Them)

January 17, 2023
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | skincare.com by L'Oréal
person touching hand to chin

As beauty editors, we’ve heard of getting pimples on nearly every part of the body. Most of your skin is fair game for breakouts, including your face, scalp, chest, back and even your butt. But have you ever gotten a pimple inside your nostril? Yes, pimples inside of your nose happen — and they’re no fun. At best, they’re an inconvenient nuisance, and at worst, they can really hurt. If you have ever had one, then you know just how painful and sensitive these blemishes are, and how tricky they can be to treat because of the hard-to-reach location. 

Ahead, we tapped two board-certified dermatologists, Dr. Hadley King and Dr. Lisa Nyanda-Manalo, and Nicole Hatfield, an esthetician at Pomp Beauty to figure out what exactly causes pimples in your nose and how to deal with them.

Why Do I Have a Pimple in My Nose?

“If you notice pain or swelling in a localized area within the nose, it is most likely a pimple,” says Hatfield. According to Dr. King, a pimple inside the nose can be caused by several things, including a clogged pore with surrounding inflammation, an ingrown hair or a bacterial skin infection like folliculitis. As is true of the skin on the rest of your body, dead skin cells, bacteria and built-up oil can all clog your pores, causing a breakout inside your nostril.   

Clogged Pores

According to the Cleveland Clinic, clogged pores occur when dead skin, oil or dirt gets stuck in the tiny openings in your skin that release oil and sweat known as pores. Clogged pores can cause two different types of blemishes — closed comedones, or whiteheads, and open comedones, or blackheads. Cleansing your skin twice a day is the easiest way to unclog your pores, and it’s especially important if you have oily skin or are prone to sweating. Chemical exfoliants, like salicylic acid, and clay or charcoal masks are also great for combating clogged pores.

It’s important to note that clogged pores are different from enlarged pores, which can be caused by factors such as age and sun damage. But when your pores are clogged, they can take on an enlarged appearance because they’re being stretched by whatever is stuck inside of them. 

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hairs are another common skin concern that can cause pimple-like bumps. An ingrown hair is essentially what it sounds like — it’s when a hair gets trapped underneath the surface of the skin. It occurs after shaving or waxing when your hairs start to grow back in and are blocked by your skin. 


This skin condition is different from ingrown hairs and it refers to the inflammation of a hair follicle as a result of bacterial, fungal or viral infection. Folliculitis can be caused by friction from tight clothing and sweaty workouts, but it can be worsened by shaving.  

What Kind of Pimples Can You Get Inside Your Nose?

“There are multiple skin blemishes that can present on the nose,” says Dr. Nyanda. “Therefore, it is important to have a good understanding of these unique types to be able to determine the best treatment regimen.” 


As mentioned above, blackheads are also known as open comedones. Blackheads occur when oil gets trapped in your pores and the oil turns dark or black in color as it is exposed to open air. 


“These are commonly referred to as closed comedones,” explains Dr. Nyanda. “They can present as small white-topped papules that result from a collection of oil and dead skin cells that get trapped at the top of the skin.”


As the name suggests, pustules are pus-filled pimples. Like whiteheads, pustules have a yellow or white center, but they are triggered by bacteria and tend to be more inflamed and irritated. “The pustules can contain dead skin cells, bacteria and skin debris,” says Dr. Nyanda. “Our bodies trigger a localized response which then leads to inflammation and redness.”


Papules differ from pustules in that they don’t contain any fluid. Papules generally refers to small, hard, red bumps on your skin that can sometimes become inflamed or infected.     


According to Dr. Nyanda, nodules “are larger growths that can appear secondary to bacteria and oil that goes deeper into the skin.” Nodules can be especially painful compared to other kinds of blemishes because of their larger size. They can also result in scarring since they’re deeper than surface-level pimples. 


If you’ve ever had a cyst, you know how painful they can be. “A cyst is considered the largest blemish associated with acne that is due to deep inflammation,” says Dr. Nyanda. “These blemishes tend to form from an underlying sac that allows the bacterial components, oils and dead skin cells to collect in a well-contained membrane under the skin.” Cysts can bleed and rupture, she warns, so they may require antibiotics or in-office drainage treatment from a dermatologist.  

Why Can Pimples Inside the Nose Be So Painful?

“Pimples inside the nose tend to be more painful because our pores in this area are larger and can clog more easily, causing a deeper, more painful pimple known as a nodule,” explains Hatfield. Adds Dr. Nyanda, “Pimples inside the nose are painful because the bacteria and dead skin cells can cause inflammation and irritation within the nasal mucosa, resulting in pain.” 

How to Get Rid of Pimples in Your Nose 

Both Dr. King and Hatfield explain that pimples in the nose typically heal on their own within a few days. To relieve discomfort, use a warm compress and carefully apply topical skincare products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Hatfield recommends using a cotton swab to gently clean the area and apply a spot treatment for acne or breakouts, such as one formulated with benzoyl peroxide.


Above all, though, you should never try to pop a pimple in your nose (or anywhere, for that matter). As you’re waiting for your pimple to heal, avoid touching, picking or even blowing your nose too frequently as doing so can introduce more bacteria to the area and lead to potential infection. If you notice that your pimple has not healed after a few days and continues to become more painful, Dr. King says it’s important to see your dermatologist to come up with a more targeted treatment plan. 

How Do You Prevent Pimples In Your Nose

One way to prevent new pimples in your nose from popping up is to keep your hands off of any existing blemishes. “I recommend avoiding manipulation or trauma to the area, which can introduce more bacteria,” notes Dr. Nyanda. She also suggests that an oral or topical antibiotic might be called for with ongoing breakouts or deeper pimples, but you should consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine the best plan of action for you. 

Overall, sticking to a skincare routine is the easiest way to try to maintain skin health and prevent acne anywhere on your body. 

Skincare Products for Pimples Near Your Nose

Keep in mind, we are referring to visible pimples near the outer portion of the nostril. You should avoid applying these treatments to areas that are not visible to the eye, and when in doubt, reach out to a board-certified dermatologist for advice about which products are right for you. 

Vichy Normaderm S.O.S. Acne Rescue Spot Corrector

Blemishes don’t stand a chance against the maximum strength Vichy Normaderm S.O.S. Acne Rescue Spot Corrector. This spot treatment is formulated with 10% sulfur and glycolic acid to minimize the appearance of pimples by drying them out. But don’t worry, the inclusion of soothing, hydrating niacinamide allows your skin to heal and keeps it from getting overly dry. Apply some to the affected area at night after cleansing and follow it up with moisturizer.

Vichy Normaderm S.O.S. Acne Rescue Spot Corrector

Kiehl's Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

With a potent formula of 10% sulfur, the Kiehl’s Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment targets existing acne blemishes while preventing new ones from forming. We like this spot treatment because it absorbs and blends easily into your skin, unlike some other drying creams that need to be reserved for overnight use. You can use it up to three times a day, but keep in mind that you may have to reduce the number of applications if you start to feel your skin getting too dry and peeling.

Kiehl's Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment

The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment is developed with benzoyl peroxide, one of the acne-fighting ingredients recommended by Hatfield. The benzoyl peroxide tackles acne, pimples, blackheads or whiteheads — basically any kind of blemish you can imagine having inside your nostril. This spot treatment is also formulated with lipo-hydroxy acid for its exfoliating benefits. While we are recommending it to address individual pimples here, you can also apply this topical cream all over your face if you struggle with acne.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

If you’re into skincare, chances are you’ve heard about the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. This iconic, cult-favorite product is widely heralded for its ability to shrink pimples overnight. The unique formula of pink sediment in liquid is made with sulfur, oil-absorbing zinc oxide and salicylic acid, one of the most popular anti-acne ingredients. Use a cotton swab to tap some of the chalky pink cream onto your pimple before bed and wake up to find that it has practically disappeared. Just remember not to rub it in or apply it on broken skin (like if you’ve tried to pop the blemish).

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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