The key difference papules and pustules is that papules are solid, inflamed bumps in the skin that do not have tips filled with white or yellow pus, while pustules are bulging patches in the skin that have white or yellow pus-filled tips.
Acne is a common skin condition that causes several types of blemishes in the skin with distinct appearances and symptoms. It affects 50 million Americans and 85 % of adolescents annually. Acne can persist in different forms such as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules. Papules and pustules are two common types of acnes.
What are Papules?
Papules are small, well-defined bumps in the skin that do not have a white or yellow pus-filled tip. They may have a rounded, pointed, or flat top. They may also have a dip. Papules are an inflammatory form of acne. However, they don’t have a pus-filled tip. But still, they are noticeable. Papules may be red, tender, irritating, and painful. They can be commonly observed in the face, neck, back, chest, shoulders, and upper arms of the body. Researchers believe papules affect nearly everyone at some time during their lifetime. Moreover, papules are very frequent in adolescence. Some of the causes for developing papules are overproduction of oil by the sebaceous gland, an increased presence of bacteria in the skin, an increased level of androgens, and some medications such as corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Papules should not be squeezed as this may introduce bacteria deep into the skin, irritate the skin, and form scars on the skin.
Papules are diagnosed through family history and skin tests. Furthermore, treatments for papules include not prescribing medications such as azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, salicylic acid, prescription of medications such as antibiotics, anti-androgens, dapsone, and oral contraceptive, and home remedies (apple cider vinegar, green tea, honey, ice, lemon juice, and tea tree oil).
What are Pustules?
Pustules are bulging patches in the skin that have white or yellow pus-filled tips. Some researchers define pustules as bulging patches of skin that are full of yellowish fluid called pus. They are basically big pimples. The symptoms of pustules include small red bumps with white or yellowish centers, tender sore to touch, redness, swelling, pain, and warmth. They may occur in different parts of the body, including the face, neck, scalp, back, upper chest, buttocks, groin, arms, legs, hands, and feet. Pustules may form when the skin becomes inflamed as a result of an allergic reaction to food, environmental allergens, or poisonous insect bites. The other causes of pustules include acne, psoriasis, rosacea, chickenpox, IgA pemphigus, and smallpox.
Pustules can be diagnosed through questionnaires and skin examinations. Furthermore, treatments for pustules may include antibiotics, cream, lotion, gel, antibiotics to be taken by mouth, antifungal cream, shampoo, steroid cream, prescription strength azelaic or salicylic acid cream, dapsone (aczone) gel, and home remedies including gently wash the area with soap twice a day, apply over the counter cream like calamine lotion, staying away from products like cosmetics and sun creams that irritate the skin, not touching, picking, or popping pustules.
What are the Similarities Between Papules and Pustules?
- Papules and pustules are two common types of acnes.
- Both occur on the skin throughout the body.
- These skin conditions are common in adolescence.
- Both are diagnosed through physical examination.
- They can be treated through antibiotics.
What is the Difference Between Papules and Pustules?
Papules are solid inflamed bumps in the skin that do not have a white or yellow pus-filled tip, while pustules are bulging patches in the skin that have a white or yellow pus-filled tip. Thus, this is the key difference between papules and pustules. Furthermore, papules occur in the face, neck, back, chest, shoulders, and upper arms in the body, while pustules occur in the face, neck, scalp, back, upper chest, buttocks, groin, arms, and legs.
The below infographic presents the differences between papules and pustules in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Papules vs Pustules
Acne is a common skin condition that causes several types of blemishes in the skin. They commonly appear in adolescence. Papules and pustules are two common types of acnes. Papules are solid inflamed bumps that do not have a white or yellow pus-filled tip. Pustules are bulging patches in the skin that have a white or yellow pus-filled tip. So, this summarizes the difference between papules and pustules.
1. “Acne Papules: Vs. Pustules & Symptoms, Causes & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic.
2. Kahn, April. “What Causes Pustules?” Healthline, Healthline Media.