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What Causes a Pimple or Bump in or on the Nose?

An illustration of a yellow nose from the front. The nostrils are darker yellow than the bridge. There are darker yellow pimples and bumps all over the nose.
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Last updated May 15, 2024

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If you have a bump or pimple in or on your nose, you may find it irritating or painful. The most common causes of a bump in or on the nose are acne, bacterial, or fungal infection. A painful bump in the nose could also be caused by trauma from picking your nose or a nose piercing.

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Bumps in or on the nose explained

It's common to pay more attention to your nose during allergy or flu season, especially if you suffer from sneezing or sniffling. A bump in or on the nose, however, is a unique issue and can cause concern — whether it's a pimple or something else.

Common accompanying symptoms

It's likely to also experience the following with a bump in or on the nose.

What can cause a bump on or inside the nose?

The following details may help you better understand your symptoms and if and when you need to see a physician.

Nose structure

A few main parts make up the nose, and a bump in each area indicates a different cause.

  • Nostrils: The nostrils serve as the entrance to your nasal cavity. They're the first component involved in the science of smelling things like your grandma's cookies or your dog in need of a bath.
  • Septum: The septum separates the nostrils, which is made up of pieces of bone at one end and thick cartilage at the other. This combination is what makes the tip of your nose so movable.
  • Nasal cavity: The space behind your nose is the nasal cavity. This area connects to your throat and is separated from the mouth by your palette. The intertwining of your nose and mouth is why scents and tastes play off each other.

Infectious causes

Bacteria and fungi are common causes of nose bumps. The inner linings of the nose are covered in hair follicles that can become blocked and irritated. The nose can become infected, either with bacteria or a fungus, just like the rest of your body. Infections can result in pain, redness, and if severe enough, a bump. If you suffer from acne outside your nose, this is another possible cause.

Medical causes

Boils can develop inside the opening of the nostril. These require treatment before they lead to other medical conditions. Painless growths like polyps can cover the sinuses and lead to discomfort. If your allergies are bad enough, they can also cause bumps inside your nose.

Traumatic causes

Traumatic causes are usually self-inflicted. Picking your nose or removing hair can lead to irritation and infections inside the nasal passages. Trauma from an accident or force can damage any of the intricate parts of the nose, possibly causing bumps and bruising.

9 bump in or on the nose conditions

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.


Whiteheads are caused by hair follicles becoming clogged with oil & dead skin cells. When the clogged pore is closed to the air by a layer of skin cells, the oil/dead skin cells remains white (as opposed to a blackhead).

Though large whiteheads can be removed by a dermatologist, most cases can be treated with proper hygiene and over-the-counter medications/treatments. Look for products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: small facial lump, yellow or white facial bump

Symptoms that always occur with whitehead: small facial lump, yellow or white facial bump

Urgency: Self-treatment

Skin cyst

A cyst is a small sac or lump, filled with fluid, air, fat, or other material, that begins to grow somewhere in the body for no apparent reason. A skin cyst is one that forms just beneath the skin.

It's believed that skin cysts form around trapped keratin cells – the cells that form the relatively tough outer layer of the skin.

These cysts are not contagious.

Anyone can get a skin cyst, but they are most common in those who are over age 18, have acne, or have injured the skin.

Symptoms include the appearance of a small, rounded lump under the skin. Cysts are normally painless unless infected, when they will be reddened and sore and contain pus.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination. A small cyst can be left alone, though if it is unsightly or large enough to interfere with movement it can be removed in a simple procedure done in a doctor's office. An infected cyst must be treated so that the infection does not spread.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: skin-colored armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump

Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst: skin-colored armpit bump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Skin abscess

A skin abscess is a large pocket of pus that has formed just beneath the skin. It is caused by bacteria getting under the skin, usually through a small cut or scratch, and beginning to multiply. The body fights the invasion with white blood cells, which kill some of the infected tissue but form pus within the cavity that remains.

Symptoms include a large, red, swollen, painful lump of pus anywhere on the body beneath the skin. There may be fever, chills, and body aches from the infection.

If not treated, there is the risk of an abscess enlarging, spreading, and causing serious illness.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

A small abscess may heal on its own, through the body's immune system. But some will need to be drained or lanced in a medical provider's office so that the pus can be cleaned out. Antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Keeping the skin clean, and using only clean clothes and towels, will help to make sure that the abscess does not recur.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash

Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess: rash with bumps or blisters

Urgency: Primary care doctor


Pimples are also called comedones, spots, blemishes, or "zits." Medically, they are small skin eruptions filled with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Pimples often first start appearing at puberty, when hormones increase the production of oil in the skin and sometimes clog the pores.

Most susceptible are teenagers from about ages 13 to 17.

Symptoms include blocked pores that may appear flat and black on the surface, because the oil darkens when exposed to the air; blocked pores that appear white on the surface because they have closed over with dead skin cells; or swollen, yellow-white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by reddened skin.

Outbreaks of pimples on the skin can interfere with quality of life, making the person self-conscious about their appearance and causing pain and discomfort in the skin. A medical provider can help to manage the condition, sometimes through referral to a dermatologist.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment involves improving diet; keeping the skin, hair, washcloths, and towels very clean; and using over-the-counter acne remedies.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump

Symptoms that always occur with pimple: pink or red facial bump

Urgency: Self-treatment


Lipoma is a word that translates as "fatty tumor," but a lipoma is not cancer. It is simply a growth of fat between the muscle layer and the skin above it.

The exact cause is not known. The condition does run in families and is associated with other unusual syndromes such as adiposis dolorosa, which is similar. Lipomas most often appear after age 40.

Symptoms include a soft, easily moveable lump beneath the skin, about two inches across. A lipoma is painless unless its growth is irritating the nerves around it. They are most often found on the back, neck, and abdomen, and sometimes the arms and upper legs.

It is a good idea to have any new or unusual growth checked by a medical provider, just to make certain it is benign.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, biopsy, and imaging such as ultrasound or CT scan.

Most of the time, treatment is not necessary unless the lipoma is unsightly or is interfering with other structures. It can be removed through surgery or liposuction.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: skin-colored groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump

Symptoms that always occur with lipoma: skin-colored groin bump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Facial mole

Moles are growths on the skin. They happen when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters.

If you have many moles that you are worried about, you can go see your primary care doctor to follow the moles. However, treatment is only considered if a new mole develops or changes.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: facial bump unchanging in size, small facial lump, black or brown facial bump, uniformly black/brown face bump, facial bump's smooth border

Symptoms that always occur with facial mole: black or brown facial bump, facial bump unchanging in size

Urgency: Wait and watch

Dermatofibroma of the nose

A dermatofibroma is a fairly common skin growth that usually appears on the lower legs, but may appear anywhere on the body. These mole-like growths are benign (noncancerous.)

The cause is not known, though a dermatofibroma may appear after a minor injury. The growths are not contagious.

Dermatofibromas are most common in adults and are rarely found in children.

Symptoms include a hard, raised growth that is red, pink, or brown and less than half an inch across. They are usually painless but may be tender or itchy, and may appear alone or in groups.

Any new growth on the skin should be seen by a medical provider, especially if the growth is very dark in color or changes its shape or appearance quickly.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes biopsy.

A dermatofibroma does not require treatment unless it is interfering with clothing or is unsightly. They can be surgically removed, though this will leave a scar and the growth may eventually return.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nose itch, small nose lump, skin-colored nose bump, pink or red nose bump, marble-size nose lump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Boil (furuncle)

A furuncle, also called a boil, is infection of a hair follicle. The infection forms under the skin at the root of the hair and may occur anywhere on the body.

The infection is caused by bacteria, most often Staphylococcus aureus or "staph." Irritation caused by clothes or anything else rubbing the skin can cause the skin to break down and allow bacteria to enter.

Staph bacteria are found everywhere. Frequent and thorough handwashing, and otherwise maintaining cleanliness, will help to prevent its spread.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system; diabetes; and other skin infections.

Symptoms include a single bump under the skin that is swollen, painful, and red, and contains pus.

It is important to treat the boil, since infection can spread into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes fluid sample from the boil.

Treatment may involve incision and drainage of the infection, followed by creams to apply to the site of the boil and/or a course of antibiotic medicine.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump, constant skin changes

Symptoms that always occur with boil (furuncle): pink or red facial bump

Symptoms that never occur with boil (furuncle): fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

When and how to treat a bump in or on the nose

When to see a doctor

If you experience the following symptoms, see a physician.

  • You experience excessive bleeding from the nose
  • The bump grows in size
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You have pain behind the nose

At-home treatments

Consider the following treatments for a bump in your nose.

  • Saltwater therapy: An infected bump may benefit from the antibacterial properties of saltwater. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and apply with a clean cloth to the affected area.
  • Warm compress: Soak a washcloth in warm water and apply to the area if possible. The compress will reduce discomfort and help bring any infection to the surface.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal. It can also moisturize and soothe irritated skin. Use a cotton swab to carefully apply the oil as needed.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar soothes itching, swelling, and redness. It has antiseptic properties that can kill bacteria and speed up the healing process.


To prevent bumps in your nose, keep the following in mind.

  • Avoid picking your nose
  • Be gentle when blowing your nose
  • Avoid triggers if you're prone to allergies or have allergic rhinitis

FAQs about bump in or on the nose

Here are some frequently asked questions about a bump in or on the nose.

Can a bump in my nose go away on its own?

Yes. A bump (most commonly a pimple) or a mixture of infection, inflammation, and overactive sweat glands can occur in the nose. It will often last as long as bumps or pimples in other areas of the body and disappear without any intervention. Unless you are seeing a specialist in popping pimples (e.g. a dermatologist), it is best to let the bump resolve on its own so as not to spread the pimple.

What does a bump in the nose with pus mean?

A bump on the nose that expresses pus is commonly known as a pimple. It is often due to overactive sweat glands and inflammation. In some cases, pimples can be due to infection, but most are from inflammation or sweat.

Can an infected piercing cause a nose bump?

Yes. A skin infection or cellulitis is a complication of nose piercing. Infected piercings do not usually require medical attention. The piercing should either be replaced or left in and washed and rinsed with mild soapy water or disinfectant. Removing the piercing may allow the hole through which the piercing was placed to swell shut and heal, such that a new piercing is required.

What does a painful bump in my nose mean?

A painful bump on the surface of the nose may be a pimple. A painful bump within the nose may be an infected portion of the nostril. You have oil glands just outside the nose that track into the nose as well. If one of those regions becomes clogged with dirt or oil, it can block sweat and oil from being released, causing a pimple.

Can you have a pimple in your nose?

Yes. A pimple forms from blocked glands and can occur inside the nose as well as outside the nose. A pimple in the nose is not an uncommon occurrence and should resolve on its own as long as it is kept clean. You should not pop it as this can spread bacteria and cause pimples on other areas of the face.

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Questions your doctor may ask about bump in or on the nose

  • What color is the bump?
  • Is your nose bump painful to touch?
  • Is there something on the surface of the bump?
  • Has anyone in your family had cancer?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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