Home Skin CareAcne Papule-pustular acne: characteristics and treatment

Papule-pustular acne: characteristics and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Only those who suffer from acne know how difficult it can be to get rid of pimples, especially if the treatment is only superficially. What differentiates this acne from other types is a significant inflammatory reaction, which is quite a challenge to combat and avoid the possible scars that can result if the skin is manipulated or squeezed. Therefore, the first advice is: never touch those pimples!

In this FastlyHealarticle, you will find practical and valuable tips for the treatment of papulopustular acne and its main characteristics to be able to recognize it.

Types of acne

We might think that pimples, blackheads, comedones, pustules … are all the same, and it is that in a certain way, the origin and causes maybe, but in some cases, the treatment may take more time and perseverance. It is essential to determine what type of acne you have.

When there is not too much inflammation in the skin, we are facing the typical case of pimples or comedones. In this case, an accumulation of sebum and detritus or cellular debris appears in the outlet ducts of the sebaceous glands of the skin of the face, arms, or the upper part of the trunk.

If a black spot is observed in the comedy, it is an open comedo, in which case sebum oxidation occurs. It is not dirt. It is from the contact of that material with the air.

When this material is not observed from the outside, we are facing closed comedones. There is a considerable accumulation under the most superficial layer of the skin that does not go to the outside. Sometimes they hurt and can last a little longer. They can be the precursors of inflammatory or papulopustular acne.

The acne papules-pustular differs from others because a significant swelling appears, either by touching the area or a predisposition to your skin increased your habits.

Characteristics of papulopustular acne

Papule-pustular acne involves significant inflammation, and this causes a series of skin lesions known as papules and pustules.

Abscesses occur when closed comedones contain a bacteria known as Cutibacterium acnes, formerly called Propionibacterium acnes. This microorganism breaks down the fat of the comedo and generates an inflammatory reaction in the dermis, which can be worsened if you scratch or compress the lesions.

The lesions are characterized by :

  • Be between 2 and 5 mm in diameter.
  • Appear as reddened elevations.
  • Cause the possible appearance of pain in the area.
  • Redness of the skin.

If the inflammation becomes more superficial, it can lead to lesions known as pustules. In that case, you will notice:

  • Reddened skin
  • Multiple small external bumps or sores-type lesions.
  • These lesions ooze pus – a yellowish-white material produced by dead cell debris and inflammatory products.

Treatment of papulopustular acne

The important thing is to reach a correct diagnosis so that the treatment is more effective because some skin problems can look like pimples and are not (such as sebaceous, epidermal, milium cysts, etc.). It may be essential to go to a dermatology specialist who can study your particular case and advise you best.

From current scientific medicine, you will find that the treatments aim to reduce inflammation and the accumulation of residue through topical (local) treatments, with oral medication or external therapies:

Local treatments for papulopustular acne

The first measure that every professional or therapist will tell you is not to squeeze the pimples. This is essential since you trigger what we want to avoid inflammation if you do it.

If there is no inflammation, healing will be faster, and there is less chance of scarring in the area.

Cleansing and exfoliation

These are great allies in the treatment of all types of acne. First, you must clean your skin with a block of neutral soap and then exfoliate.

If it is a gentle exfoliation, you can do it daily. The most aggressive ones should be professionally indicated and more widely spaced.

A gentle exfoliation will only remove the most superficial part of the skin. In this way, you remove dead cells, sebum, and remains of cosmetics or contamination that your skin has accumulated throughout the day. For this reason and because it is convenient to avoid sunlight after practicing it, it is advisable to do it at night.

Among the exfoliating products that a dermatology specialist can recommend are:

  • Salicylic acid.
  • Glycolic Acid.

Local antibiotics

Antibiotic creams are often prescribed to treat bacterial C. acne infectionThe most commonly used antibiotics are erythromycin and clindamycin.

This medication is not usually indicated alone but with other drugs such as retinoids or benzoyl peroxide. This last combination is the most used treatment in dermatology for this type of acne since it has been seen that:

  • Reduces possible bacterial resistance.
  • The effects are faster.
  • Treatment is simpler and easier to continue.


They are derivatives of vitamin A . Applied on the skin to be treated, they penetrate the area where acne itself is generated, offering the following results:

  • Reduce sebum production.
  • Decrease inflammation.
  • Decrease the formation of keratin in the area.

Adapalene, tretinoin, retinaldehyde, and tazarotene are the most commonly used drugs. They usually come in cream, solution, and gel. As we have seen, the association with antibiotics is persistent.

Systemic treatment (by mouth)

Antibiotics or retinoids can also be used.

The most commonly used antibiotics are erythromycin, doxycycline, and Terramycin. Treatment usually lasts between 6 and 8 weeks, although there are times when it can be even longer.

In severe cases, retinoids such as tretinoin may also be associated. You must know that it can have serious adverse effects on pregnancy.

External therapies

There are different external techniques to treat acne, but in the case of inflammatory or papule-pustular acne, they cannot usually be applied due to large scars.

The only possible option is photodynamic therapy that applies light radiation to destroy acne bacteria, although it is not better than local treatment.

Food in case of papulopustular acne

As I always say, it is much better to focus on treating the cause than treating the symptoms superficially. Therefore, in treating papulopustular acne, it is essential to consider your lifestyle habits and improve your diet.

An essential part of body cleansing occurs through the skin. That is why those who are predisposed to have oily skin experience a severe worsening of acne if they maintain a diet:

  • High in processed foods.
  • With flour and refined sugar.
  • With excess meat and dairy.
  • Excessive unhealthy fats and fried foods.

The western diet has been scientifically proven to be insulin-inducing, increasing the tendency of oily and acne on the skin.

If you want to show off smooth, smooth, and radiant skin, you also have to care for yourself. Beauty begins on the inside. I suggest you for it:

  • Drink more water or natural infusions and fewer drinks with dyes, alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
  • Increase the consumption of fresh fruits in season. The ideal ones for acne are the apple for its great astringent and purifying power, the peach for lipogenic, and the grapes because they also favor purification and diuresis.
  • Increase the consumption of vegetables. Those that improve oily skin are aubergine, cabbages, and green leafy vegetables. Of course, a little cooked to facilitate digestion.
  • Every meal should contain whole grains. The one that works best in cases of acne is brown rice, but corn flour, quinoa, barley, rye, and, to a lesser extent, whole wheat flour is also effective.
  • A little secret: using ghee or clarified butter will significantly improve your digestive system, improve your skin and add a delicious flavor to your meals. It has been shown that despite being a fatty food, it is very healthy, helps fight inflammation, promotes digestion and absorption of food, and improves body defenses.

Natural treatment of papulopustular acne

You can use some medicinal plants that have proven to be very effective in cases of acne. I suggest you choose one and keep the treatment for at least a month.

Marigold flowers

Its anti-inflammatory properties make this plant a great ally. Use the flowers to prepare an infusion, which you will apply to your face every night.

Tea tree oil

It is not surprising that it is one of the most used oils, and it is very effective for different skin disorders, especially acne.

To use it, it is essential to do it correctly, and for this, you can consult the article Tea tree oil for acne: properties and how to apply it.


It is also anti-inflammatory and anti-comedogenic. You can prepare an infusion to apply to the skin and drink to maximize its benefits.


Sage is one of the herbs that have a better effect on cleansing the skin and greasy hair. It can be used every day because it is very soft.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Papule-pustular acne: characteristics and treatment, we recommend entering our Skin, hair, and nails category.

You may also like

Leave a Comment