Papules and pustules are both types of acne, and you may have heard these terms thrown around in dermatology offices, but just what are they are how are they different?
Read on to learn how to identify papules and pustules, and figure out how they are different from one another.
What is a papule
A papule is one of the 4 inflammatory types of acne, and it looks like a relatively small red raised bump with no center.
Papules may feel inflamed and come along in clusters of many altogether.
These blemishes occur because the pore has been clogged with oil and dead skin cells. The oil then feeds the bacteria that is naturally found on your face and causes it to overgrow. When this excess bacteria gets into your skin tissues through the pore, it causes an inflammatory response in which the skin raises and gets red and irritated.
Papules are full of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells, but do not contain pus.
What is a pustule
A pustule is what can develop from a papule, and it also looks like a red, raised, bump.
Most papules eventually progress to a pustule, but not all.
Pustules have a distinctive “head” which is a white or yellowish center to the blemish.
This head is pus made from the accumulation of white blood cells that your body sent to the area to help clear the excess bacteria in the pore.
If pustules are squeezed, this pus can come out of the pore and spread around the face, causing even more papules and pustules to arise, so it is best to treat these without popping or picking.
What is the main difference between papules and pustules
The main difference between a papule and a pustule is the presence of pus in the center of the blemish.
They are both raised, red, and can feel painful and inflamed.
They can also occur next to each other, or you can have some papules and pustules all mixed together during a breakout.
Papules tend to eventually progress to pustules, but not always.
Picking or popping at either type of blemish is not recommended as it is easy to spread the bacteria and create more pimples.
How are papules and pustules treated
Papules and pustules are normally treated by the same medications.
To start with, you will want to try over the counter medications and medicated face washes that include acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
If you have used these products for a few weeks but your papules and pustules are still there or are worsening, you will want to speak with a doctor in-person or online to see if an acne prescription is a good choice for your pimples.
The prescriptions that are used most often for these types of acne are prescription retinoids like Tretinoin or topical antibiotics like Clindamycin.
Papules and pustules treatment online
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