Most of us get spots on our forehead, chin, back or chest – but what about inside the nose? It might not be visible, but a spot inside your nose is common and can feel uncomfortable and painful.
Here are some of the most common causes of inner nose breakouts, what to do about them and when to seek help.
What causes a spot or sore inside the nose?
There are several different reasons why a spot, bump or sore can develop inside your nose.
1. Clogged pores
Spots can appear anywhere you have a pore or a hair follicle – including around and inside the nose. When these tiny pores under the skin become blocked by dead skin cells and excess oil (also known as sebum), it causes spots, whiteheads and blackheads. If it’s a spot caused by a blocked pore, it won’t generally be too painful, more uncomfortable.
What to do: First of all, check whether it’s a pimple or a sore by taking a close look if you can. The best thing for a spot caused by a clogged pore is to keep the area clean and wait it out.
Though your usual spot treatment may work, try not to irritate it with harsh products. Try not to pick or irritate it as this can cause scarring or introduce infection. If you get regular spots in the nose or it’s sore and painful, it’s best to talk to a pharmacist or doctor.
2. Ingrown hairs
Although they happen most commonly on the face, neck, legs and bikini line, ingrown hairs can also happen inside the nose – causing red, painful bumps. They are more likely to appear on the inside of your nose if you tweeze, pluck or shave your nasal hair.
What to do: Generally, trapped nasal hair will resolve on its own, but you may want to try holding a warm compress on it to ease the swelling.
3. Cold sore
Cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus, often show up on your lips. But they can also appear on the inside of your nose.
You may feel a tingling, itching or burning sensation about a day before the blister and swelling appears. The blisters also tend to be more painful and tender than a spot, and you may experience crusting as the blister bursts and heals.
What to do: Cold sores usually get better on their own within 7-10 days. If you know it’s a cold sore, you can apply an antiviral cream early – as soon as you feel the tingling start. The earlier this cream is applied the more effective it is.
4. An infection in your nostrils (nasal vestibulitis)
Nasal vestibulitis, or nasal folliculitis, is an infection that happens when a hair follicle gets infected. It’s usually caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria, which like to live in the moist environment inside our nostrils.
The infection may look like a sore or small red bump just inside the nose, or you may experience pain in or around the nose. According to one small study, nasal vestibulitis is often the result of plucking nasal hairs, frequently blowing, picking your nose or even having a nasal piercing.
These pimples are also more likely to happen in people who have diabetes and compromised immune systems.
What to do: You may be able to soothe the area using a warm compress. Or you may need to treat the infection with an antibiotic or antibacterial ointment. If you’re worried that you may have an infection, speak to a doctor.
5. Boils inside the nostrils (nasal furuncles)
Nasal furuncles are boils, which are pus-filled bumps in the skin caused by a bacterial infection deep within the nose. Nasal furuncles are considered more serious because they may develop into a skin infection called cellulitis.
Cellulitis causes the area to become:
- Hot to touch and tender
With more serious cellulitis infections, you may also experience:
- Nausea or vomiting
- A temperature
- Chills or shivering
If you have an infection in this part of your face, it could lead to a life-threatening condition, called cavernous sinus thrombosis.
This is when bacteria spreads through the veins that lead to the brain. But this condition is extremely rare and affects around 1 in 100,000 people per year.
What to do: If you develop a boil or deeper infection within your nostrils, make an appointment to see a doctor. They may have to surgically drain the boil or prescribe you an antibiotic. The antibiotic is ideally given by an injection.
Is it safe to pop a spot inside the nose?
While it can be tempting to squeeze a spot, try to resist the urge to pop, pick or scratch a spot inside your nose because it may cause an infection.
If your spot isn’t improving or responding to products bought over-the-counter, speak to a doctor.
How can I prevent a spot inside my nose?
If you find you’re prone to spots inside your nose:
- Avoid picking, scratching or blowing your nose too much
- Stay clear of removing hair from your nose because it increases the likelihood of ingrown hairs. If you really have to remove them, always wash your hands before doing so and sterilise your tweezers
- Wash your face daily and remove makeup before bed to prevent oil, dead skin cells and dirt from building up around your nostrils
How do I treat a spot in my nose?
Make sure that what you have is a spot before you start treating it. If the spot turns out to be an infection or cold sore, a doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics, a topical ointment or antivirals instead.
As well as using an over-the-counter spot treatment for the pimple, holding a warm compress to your nose 3 times a day can reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
If the spot in question is further up your nose or you simply can’t see it, leave it alone to see if the discomfort goes or speak to a doctor if you're concerned. As well as causing irritation, you could do more harm than good.
When should I speak to a doctor?
If the spot in your nose isn’t going away by itself or keeps coming back, speak to a pharmacist or arrange an appointment with a doctor who can help determine what’s causing it.
You should also see a doctor if you have a spot and the following symptoms:
- Increasing pain, tenderness or swelling
- A red swollen rash
This article has been medically reviewed by Livi Lead GP Dr Bryony Henderson.