Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment of Pustules on Skin

a woman looking and touching her acne on her face

Pustules on Skin

Pustules are a type of pimple that is yellowish pus-filled. They are bigger than whiteheads and blackheads.

Pustules appear either as red bumps with white centres or as white bumps that are hard and often soft to the touch. In most cases, the skin around the pustules is red or inflamed.

What causes pustules?

A clogged pore is the main cause of any pimple, including pustules. Oil, bacteria, or dead skin are the ones that block the pore.

Pustules occur when the walls of the pores which are affected begin to break down. As a result, pustules are likely to be bigger than whiteheads and blackheads.

Acne and folliculitis are some of the common causes of pustules. However, pustules can also occur in people with certain types of psoriasis, such as palmoplantar pustulosis, and those with some kind of eczema, including dyshidrotic eczema.

Pustules are pus-filled because the body is trying to deal with the dirt or bacteria that has entered the pore. Pus is a natural effect of the immune system, which consists mostly of dead white blood cells.

Acne Pustule Symptoms

Acne pustules appear different from other types of acne blemishes. A pustule is a red, inflamed pimple that has a white head filled with white, yellow, or cream-coloured pus that oozes out if it is pierced or broken.

Sometimes a brownish dot can be seen in the centre of a whitehead which means debris is clogging the pore.

Pustules tend to occur near oil glands, especially around the face, chest, shoulders, and back. They can vary in size from very small to quite big.

Unlike non-inflamed acne lesions, such as blackheads, milia, and comedones, pustules are sometimes soft to the touch.

Where do they occur?

Pustules can occur anywhere, but they are more common on areas of the body that become oily, such as the neck and face, and areas that get sweaty, such as the armpits, chest, and pubic area.

People often have pustules around the following body parts:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Underarms
  • Hairline
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Pubic area

Pustule vs. other types of pimple

There are six common types of pimples:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Pustules
  • Papules
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

Pimples or acne share similar features because they all occur as a result of clogged pores.

Blackheads and whiteheads are the smallest types of pimples. Blackheads have open pores, whereas in whiteheads these are closed.

Papules and pustules are similar, and both are bigger than blackheads and whiteheads. They occur when the wall of the pore break down, causing a bigger pimple to form.

Pustules are typically white and, unlike papules, they are pus-filled. A person may find that a pustule is soft to the touch.

Nodules and cysts are bigger than papules and pustules and may need medical supervision. With these types of acne or pimple, the skin around them becomes very irritated. Nodules are very hard in touch, while cysts are soft.

Treatment of Pustules

Small pustules can heal on their own over time without any interference, but acne treatments and home remedies for acne or pimple can speed up this process.

People should try to keep the skin around the pustules clean and oil-free. They can do this by washing the area twice a day.

Over-the-counter creams, ointments, and soaps can also help, particularly those which contain any of the following:

  • salicylic acid
  • Sulfur
  • peroxide

However, people should avoid using these products near the genitals areas.

It is important to avoid picking or popping a pustule. Doing this can further damage it and extend the healing process.

If home remedies do not work, talk to the doctor about prescription treor products can dry out the skin. People with sensitive skin should use products that are less irritating and helps in moisturizing the skin.atments. Stronger medications can often remove the pustules.

Acne face wash  If the skin becomes irritated, a person should stop using the product.

Home remedies

Applying a few home remedies to the affected area can help treat pustules.

Many people find home remedies quite effective for treating pimples, including pustules.

The following effective home treatments can help:

Clay masks. A mask that contains natural clays can help to withdraw oil and dirt from the skin, reducing the occurrence of pimples.

Essential oils. Diluting and applying essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties, such as tea tree or rosemary oil, to the affected areas may help reduce the pain and inflammation of pimples.

Aloe vera gel. Aloe vera is a natural plant with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 


People often prevent pustules by keeping the areas clean that are much prone to pimples and keeping them oil-free. Cleaning should be done at least twice a day and with a mild soap.

It is best to avoid products that contain oils which includes many types of moisturizer and some sunscreens. The oil can clog the pores and make the pustules form.

Take Away

Pustules are irritating but harmless, and they usually go away on their own. People can often prevent them or reduce their extremities by keeping pustule-prone areas clean and oil-free.

Many over the counter treatments contain ingredients that can be effective against pustules. If the pustules get worse, do not clear up on their own, or are chronic, a person should consult their doctor about further additional treatment options.