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Skin Pustules – Meaning, Causes And Best Treatment Options

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Pustules refer to painful pimples that are full of pus. It can affect people of all ages and genders. If you are suffering from pus-filled pimples, it is essential for you to read this article to learn how to manage them effectively and prevent scarring due to collagen damage. Find out here about the causes, symptoms, treatments and preventive measures associated with pustules.

What Is A Skin Pustule?

Pustules are small whitish-yellowish bumps that are full of fluid and pus. A ring of redness surrounds them. Pustules can affect any area of the body, such as the face, hands, back, fingers, legs, feet, soles, chin and more.

Also Read: Get Safe And Effective Treatment For Acne

What Are The Causes Of Pustules?

A range of conditions can cause pustules, like the following:

  • Infections: Pustules may appear due to various infections like Folliculitis (bacterial), herpes, smallpox and chickenpox (viral), scabies (parasitic) or Candidiasis Tinea (fungal).
  • Skin Disorders: Acute skin conditions like blistering disorders, pustular psoriasis, acne rosacea, contact dermatitis etc. may cause pustules.
  • Drug Eruptions: Pustules may appear due to acneiform drug eruptions also.
  • Food Allergies: A severe reaction to a food allergen can manifest itself in the form of pustules.
  • Insect bites: Venomous bug bites can also lead to the appearance of painful pustules.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pustules?

Here are some of the common symptoms of a pustule:

  • Red, painful or itchy skin
  • Painful lesions
  • Tiny blisters filled with whitish or yellowish pus

If the pustules are big and painful, or if your skin is unusually warm around the pustules, consult a dermatologist immediately. Also, if you notice any of the following signs that accompany pustules, seek medical help as soon as possible:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold And Clammy skin
  • Vomiting

Now, that you know all about the symptoms of pustules it’s time to explore the various treatment options.

Pustule Acne Treatment

We all tend to pop our pimples as an impulsive reaction to reduce the pain and get rid of the pus build-up. However, doing so could trigger further breakouts and cause scarring. It is best to consult a dermatologist for treating your pustules effectively. He will determine the underlying causes of pustules before suggesting an apt treatment. Here are some of the treatment options he may recommend:

  • OTC Topical drugs: There are some topical medicines available over-the-counter that treat pustules in acne, such as retinoids and benzoyl peroxide.
  • Medications: Your dermatologist may recommend vitamin D3-derivatives, retinoids, corticosteroids, and more to treat pustules caused by psoriasis.
  • Antibiotics: Dermatologist prescribe both oral and topical antibiotics to treat pustules that occur due to bacterial infections.
  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels help treat acne conditions. Doctors use certain plant extracts to exfoliate the dead, upper layer of the skin under controlled conditions. Salicylic Acid is a chemical peel, which can effectively treat pustules.
  • Drainage Of Pustules: Using a specific instrument in a sterile environment, a dermatologist can drain the pustular lesions.
  • Advanced Dermatology Treatments: Options like photodynamic therapy help treat acne. A dermatologist will use light and a special light-activated solution to treat pustules.

Avoid using home remedies to treat pustules as they do not have any proven scientific efficacy and may not deliver desired results. The use of home remedies may worsen your skin condition.

Also Read: Papules Acne: Causes, Treatments And Prevention 

How To Prevent Pustules?

Here are some simple tips you can follow to keep pustules at bay.

  • Always wash your skin and keep it clean. Avoid using harsh soaps or dirty washcloth and ensure that you do not touch your skin unnecessarily as it can spread unwanted bacteria.
  • Keep your skin moisturized by using non-comedogenic products.
  • If you notice breakouts on your skin, then avoid using makeup as much as possible. If you need to use cosmetics, then opt for water-based ones.
  • Use sunscreen before you step out in the sun.
  • Eat a healthy diet including lots of green leafy vegetables, vitamins, proteins, and more. A balanced diet will boost your immunity and improve your skin health.

What Is The Difference Between Papules And Pustules?

Papules are solid and elevated skin lesions. Here are a few differences between a papule and a pustule that you must know:

  • Pustules are painful most of the times, while papules may or may not be so.
  • Pustules will contain fluid or pus, whereas papules do not contain pus.
  • In terms of texture, papules are harder than pustules.
  • Pustules are whitish to yellow in appearance, whereas papules are red or skin colour.

Now, you know all about managing pustules, so take preventive measures and consult a dermatologist at the earliest to keep your skin blemish-free. Hope you found this article informative and helpful, stay tuned for more dermatology-related insights!

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About The Author

Dr. T N Rekha Singh

Dr. T N Rekha Singh

Dr TN Rekha Singh is an MBBS, MD in Dermatology, Venerealogy and Leprology from Andhra Pradesh with over 10 years of experience in the areas of dermatology and trichology. Working as a Senior Consultant Cosmetic Dermatologist and Trichologist with Oliva Clinics for 8 years now, she has trained over 60 Doctors in the areas of skin and hair care. One of the pioneer dermatologists with Oliva, she has been exemplary in bringing clinical marvels in addition to mentoring MD dermatologists and therapists. She was awarded for her research at the AP state conference, and has participated and presented papers at many national and international dermatology conferences. She is dedicated in bringing beauty and wellness through real science of transformation, giving real results. She enjoys reading, travelling and cooking. She lives with her husband and two kids in Hyderabad.


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