16 September 2018

How to get rid of a pimple in your nose

But hold up: That thing might not even be a zit at all...

A pimple under any circumstance is annoying at best and painful at worst. But a pimple actually inside your nose is next-level garbage.

And obviously, because that sucker is in your nose, it’s that much harder to treat. Why do bad things (like nose zits) happen to good people?

A few different things could be going on when you have a pimple in your nose.

Sometimes, it’s just a pimple, like any other pimple you get on your body, says Dr Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. Like other pimples, these can form because a pore gets blocked with oil and dead skin cells, he explains.

But what looks like a nose zit may actually be something else entirely. You could actually have a cold sore (yep, they can pop up basically anywhere!), which can look like a pimple, says Dr 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.

Alternately, that nose pimple could actually be an infection called folliculitis – where a hair follicle gets infected with staph bacteria and causes redness and swelling, says Dr Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at The Mount Sinai Hospital.

Folliculitis bumps look a lot 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.

So treatment depends on what you’ve got up there.

If it’s an actual zit, treating it with a product that contains benzoyl peroxide can help get rid of it, Dr Goldenberg says.

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, he says.

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 on it, Dr Zeichner says. If it doesn’t get better, see a dermatologist – you may need a prescription antibiotic.

There are a few things you can so 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, Dr 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 dermatologist or primary-care doctor) 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 Dr 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 doctor.

Ultimately, if you’re grappling with any kind of pimple that won’t quit (whether it’s in your nose or elsewhere on your body), check in with a dermatologist for help.

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock