How papules differ from pustules

Acne is familiar to all of us. Dermatologists call them papules and pustules. If the pimple is just a pink, inflamed bump above the surface of the skin, then it is a papule. If there is pus in the pimple, it is a pustule.

How papules and pustules appear

The mechanism behind the appearance of a pimple is very simple. Due to the increased secretion of sebum – sebum – there is a blockage of the sebaceous gland duct. A sebaceous plug is formed, that is, a comedone, they can be open or closed. But if such a comedone is affected by the bacteria P. Acnes, then inflammation occurs, over time, the purulent contents burst into the skin, spreads, which leads to the formation of other papules, and with more severe inflammation, purulent pustules appear.

There are many reasons for such activity of the sebaceous glands, the most common is hormonal changes in puberty. Nutrition, stress, hygiene habits, and lifestyle also play a role. 

Types of pustules

If purulent inflammation occurs in the area of ​​the hair follicle, then these are follicular pustules. Flictena are pustules that are not associated with follicles. Impetigo – multiple superficial pustules, the contents of which quickly become dry.


Acne is a disease in which papules, pustules, comedones appear on the face and body (several follicles are affected at once). The inflammation is extensive, it is often painful to touch the acne, and as soon as one passes, others appear. If a person has only comedones – white and blackheads, then we are talking about a non-inflammatory type of acne. And if papules and pustules, cysts are present, this is an inflammatory type. The pustules on the face should not be pressed, this will only worsen the situation, the contents may not break out, but subcutaneously. 

It is worth saying that papules and pustules can appear not only as part of acne, for example, sometimes papular dermatosis with sterile papules occurs, that is, P. acnes is not found in them, but still acne is the most common cause. Papular eruptions are also found in psoriasis. 

How to treat papules and pustules

Now that we have found out what papules and pustules are, the question arises whether they need to be treated. In this case, it all depends on their number and frequency of occurrence. If they are single, rarely appear on the face and body, for example, due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, then you should not worry. You can simply pick up a suitable caring cosmetics from a beautician and cleanse your face with high quality. But if there are a lot of rashes, they can merge together, form spots, a dermatologist should deal with the treatment of papules and pustules.

Treatment of acne, papules and pustules is complex. Lifestyle correction and adherence to the doctor’s recommendations are required. A non-hormonal ointment is used as a local remedy, which does not cause a cancellation effect in the future. Before treatment, the doctor will prescribe tests for hormones, the content of certain vitamins and a complete blood count. This will allow you to choose an individual treatment plan.

event_note November 19, 2021

account_box Dr. Peter B Milburn

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