Pustule: causes, treatments and home remedies

Pustules are a type of pimple that contains yellowish pus. They are bigger than pimples and blackheads.

The pustules appear as red bumps with white centers or as white protuberances that are hard and are usually sensitive to touch. In many cases, the skin around the pustules is red or inflamed.

In this article, we analyze the causes, appearance and treatment of pustules.

What causes pustules?

A clogged pore is the root cause of a pustule.

A clogged pore is the root cause of any grain, including pustules. Oil, bacteria or dead skin can block the pores.

Pustules occur when the walls of the affected pore or pores begin to break. As a result, pustules tend to be larger than pimples and blackheads.

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

The pustules contain pus because the body is trying to fight against dirt or bacteria that have entered the pore. Pus is a natural product of the immune system, consisting mainly of dead white blood cells.

Where do they occur?

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

People often notice pustules around the following body parts:

  • face
  • neck
  • chest
  • armpits
  • hairline
  • behind
  • back
  • Pubic area

Pustula vs. other types of shin

pustules pustules
Pimples and blackheads are smaller than pustules.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are six common types of grain:

  • white dots
  • black spots
  • pustules
  • papules
  • nodules
  • cysts

Pimples share similar characteristics because they all occur as a result of blocked pores.

Pimples and white spots are the smallest types of grain. Black dots have open pores, while these are closed in white dots.

The papules and pustules are similar, and both are larger than blackheads and pimples. They occur when the walls of the pores break, causing a larger grain to form.

Pustules are typically white and, unlike papules, contain pus. A person may find that a pustule is sensitive to touch.

The nodules and cysts are larger than the papules and pustules and may need medical attention. With these types of pimples, the skin around the pore becomes very irritated. The nodules are hard to touch, while the cysts are soft.


The small pustules can heal themselves over time without any intervention, but treatments and home remedies can accelerate this process.

People should try to keep the skin around the pustules clean and oil-free. You can do this by washing the area with warm water and mild soap twice a day.

OTC creams, ointments and soaps (OTCs) can help, especially those that contain any of the following:

  • salicylic acid
  • sulfur
  • peroxide

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

It is important to avoid touching or popping a pustule. Doing this can cause more damage and extend the healing process.

If home remedies do not work, people can talk with their doctor about prescription treatments. These stronger medications can often eliminate pustules.

Acne products can dry the skin. People with sensitive skin should look for products that are less irritating and that can help moisturize the skin. If the skin becomes inflamed, a person should stop using the product.

Home remedies

clay mask for pustules
Applying a clay mask on the affected area can help treat the pustules.

Many people find that home remedies are effective in treating pimples, including pustules.

The following home treatments can help:

  • Clay masks A mask containing natural clays can extract oil and dirt from the skin, reducing the incidence of pimples. Learn more about the Bentonite clay masks here.
  • Essential oils. Diluting and applying essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties, such as tea tree oil or rosemary oil, in affected areas can reduce pain and inflammation of the pimples.
  • Aloe vera gel Aloe vera is a natural substance with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Learn about aloe vera for acne here.

Read about the home remedies for acne here.


People can often prevent pustules by cleansing areas of the skin that are prone to pimples and keeping them free of oil. Cleaning should be done at least twice a day and include a mild soap.

It is better to avoid the use of products that contain oils. These products include many types of moisturizer and some sunscreens. The oil can clog pores and cause pustules to form.


The pustules are irritating but, otherwise, harmless, and usually disappear on their own. People can often prevent them or reduce their severity by keeping the areas prone to clean, oil-free pustules.

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

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