The pustules are small collections of pus in the upper layer of the epidermis or dermis. Generally are formed in correspondence with hair follicles or sweat glands. They can be located on both the face and on the back, sternum, shoulders or at the level of the groin, armpits and other areas where sweating is particularly abundant.

Often associated to acne, pustules may be a sign of an infection of the skin. The pus is in fact produced by the rupture of inflammatory cells during the battle waged by the body against infection. The obstruction of the pores in the accumulation of sebum and bacteria that eventually results in the formation of pustule.

The pustules can hurt or be sensitive. Depending on their cause they may be associated with symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, swelling, redness and headache.


What kind of diseases can be associated with pustules?

The following diseases may be associated with pustules:

  • Acne
  • Blepharitis
  • Candidiasis
  • Dermatophytosis
  • Folliculitis
  • Cold sores
  • Impetigo
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease
  • Cat-scratch disease
  • Stye
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea
  • Scabies
  • Smallpox
  • Chickenpox

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list and it is highly recommended to consult your doctor, in case of symptom’s persistence.


What is the therapy for pustules?

Typically small pustules disappear without the need for a specific treatment. It is important not to crush them and to avoid the use oily products on the area of skin affected by the problem. In some cases it may be useful detergents and products for topical use (creams, lotions), for example based on salicylic acid or sulfur, which help to accelerate healing. Some products, however, are quite aggressive and may dry the skin and exfoliate. You should be careful what you apply on the skin, especially if it sensitive, because you take the risk of worsening the situation.

In more serious cases you may have to resort to drugs (creams or tablets) based antibiotics or treatment with the laser.


When is most likely to contact your doctor in case of pustules?

In the presence of pustules is good to seek medical attention especially if this is a persistent or recurrent problem, if they are associated with pain or lose fluid, and if suddenly appeared covering whole areas of the body such as the face.

It is also advisable to contact the soon as possible to the doctor if the pustules are associated with high fever, heat or swelling of the affected area, clammy skin, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.