Acne 101: What are Pustules?

what are pastules

By now, you know what whiteheads and blackheads are—but what about bigger blemishes, like pustules? We think the American Academy of Dermatology explains these troublesome zits best by pointing out that “sometimes the pores get so irritated that their walls break.” True story—and when they break, the result is bigger pimples, pustules being one type.

Much like their harder, pus-free counterparts (papules), pustules are small, round lesions. You’ll notice they’re red in color with yellowish or whitish centers—that’s the visible pus. While inflamed, pustules—unlike nodules, cysts, and acne conglobata—are generally painless and do not contain a great deal of bacteria. The inflammation you see is likely the result of a chemical irritation from things like free fatty acids, which are substances that circulate in the bloodstream and are common in everyone’s skin—although it’s possible there are other causes.

While it may be tempting to pop a pustule, we have to tell you one more time even though you’ve heard it before: don’t do it! You could end up with a permanent reminder of your battle with the blemish—AKA, a visible scar. At the end of the day, the risk simply doesn’t justify the reward. The one exception to this hard and fast rule? Having a professional do the “popping” for you. If you get a pustule that is particularly bothersome and you simply cannot deal, so ahead and make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can extract it safely, in a way that won’t make the situation worse.


The effective treatment of pustules centers on two things—getting rid of existing blemishes, and just as importantly, preventing the formation of new ones. Because it’s formulated with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which is delivered via a patented delivery system called SmartTarget™, Proactiv’s latest 3-Step-System is an excellent over-the-counter choice if you’re on a mission to get your pustule situation in check. Right now, you can try it for $29.95 with a 60-day money-back guarantee—so in the event it doesn’t work out for you, you’d only be out the cost of shipping and handling. Follow this link to order Proactiv+ today!