Ear Blackheads. How Headphones Play a Part and What to do About Them?

We all know that our skin is quite sensitive to a vast number of things in the environment. Even the dust in the air and wearing a mask can trigger inflammation on your skin, causing acne and comedones. In fact, our skin is even more prone to breaking out in hot and humid conditions. 

But did you know that our ears are not left out of the equation? With the arrival of Bluetooth earbuds and large headphones, we create a favorable humid environment for bacteria to grow in our ears. As a result, some people can develop ear blackheads or open comedones from earbuds for extended periods.

In the following article, we will discuss what causes blackheads in your ears and how you can prevent these tech-induced comedones in the future.

What causes Ear Blackheads?

Although you might have heard that these comedones occur due to hormonal imbalance, it is not always the case. Blackheads can occur anywhere on your body where you have pores, from your face and legs to even your ears.

These pores can get clogged from excess sebum production, dirt, and skin debris. As a result of oxygen exposure, the sebum then gets oxidized into a black spot in your pore. 

Since your ears contain millions of pores and sebaceous glands, it is no wonder that some of these pores can get blocked and form blackheads in unfavorable conditions. 

So what causes blackheads in your ears? Which conditions increase the risk of ear blackheads?

Although there are multiple causes, the rising use of earbuds and headphones has played a significant role in forming ear blackheads. 

If you wear earbuds for a long time, they can block the air circulation in your external air canal. As a result, this can prompt increased wax and sebum production, leading to clogged pores.

Besides this, people who do not clean their ears and headphones frequently are at risk of blackheads. You can even worsen and exacerbate your blackheads if you suffer from stress, hormonal imbalance, and allergies to skin and hair products. 

black ear buds on yellow background

How to Prevent Ear Blackheads?

Now that you know what causes blackheads, let us look at some ways to prevent having them in the future. You can follow these simple tips to maintain your ear hygiene and decrease the risk of forming gross blackheads in your ears.

  • Wash your pillowcase at least once a week to prevent the buildup of bacteria, dirt, and chemical products. If you keep your pillows clean, you reduce the risk of transferring the infection to your ear canal.
  • Since your mobile phone is exposed to dust, allergens, and bacteria, you should clean it with alcohol wipes at least once a week. Thus, it will reduce the risk of blackheads whenever you take a call on your cell phone.
  • Ensure to clean your earbuds, headphones, or earphones to prevent a buildup of earwax and bacteria. It includes cleaning the overhead band and over-the-ear cushions in your headphones too. Along with this, take out the silicon tips of your earbuds and use soap and water to clean them thoroughly. 
  • Avoid touching your ears with your hands or inserting your fingers inside the canal. Since your hands carry a lot of germs, practice washing your hands multiple times a day.
  • Do not use your earbuds for an extended period. Give your ears a break and let cool, fresh air in to prevent wax humidity in your ears. 
  • Always make sure to wash your ears thoroughly during your showers with soap and warm water. However, do not let the water run deep into your ear canal.
  • Just like the way we exfoliate our face once or twice a week, extend the same treatment to your ears to keep them squeaky clean. 
  • Avoid sharing your headphones with other people, even for just a few minutes. Although it might seem pretty normal, you might end up transferring germs to each other. 
  • While it is more fun to listen to music during workouts, all the sweat, heat, and humidity can increase the risk of ear blackheads. If you are working out alone in your home, switch to speakers to prevent bacterial infections in your ear. 

How to Treat Ear Blackheads?

If you have ever had blackheads and acne on your face or back, you already know the regular treatments. Fortunately, the same treatments are also effective in getting rid of the blackheads in your ears too.


Whether you opt for physical or chemical products, exfoliation helps shed our top layer of skin, brighten our tone, and unclog all the dirty pores. Similarly, you should try to exfoliate the skin in your ears like your face too. 

Apply the exfoliator on the skin once or twice a week during your shower and gently rub it in.

Besides this, you can also use your regular cleanser to wash your ears in the shower thoroughly. However, keep in mind to not over-scrub or rub to prevent irritation from friction. 

Acne Medications

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are some of the strongest and commonly used over-the-counter acne medications. They help to unclog your pores, remove the dead skin cells, and prevent germ infestation in your skin.

You can find salicylic acid in multiple skin products too. For example, many brands add this chemical to your cleansers, toners, and astringents to help you incorporate the medication into your daily life. 


Although you might find it highly satisfying to pop your zits by applying pressure, most often, you do not end up cleaning the whole pore. As a result, the leftover blackhead becomes infected and forms painful acne or pimples. 

Instead of using your fingers, it is better to seek out dermatologist help or use professional extraction tools to clean your pores. 


Blackheads are a common skin condition found typically on the face, back, and chest. However, it is also possible to find these pesky open comedones in your ears too. 

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to prevent their occurrence by adopting good ear hygiene practices. And if you already have ear blackheads, try using one of the treatment methods mentioned in the article.

If your blackheads keep recurring, it is best to visit a dermatologist for a thorough checkup and treatment plan. 

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