Cancel
Nearby: Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
man holding elbow

Pustules

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What are pustules?

Pustules are small, pus-filled sores located at the surface of the skin. They are most commonly seen in acne, although they can be a sign of any infection involving the skin. Pustules appear on the skin as small, raised, reddened areas that typically have a whitish center. They may or may not be painful or tender to the touch. Pustules most commonly occur on the face, chest and shoulders and in areas of increased sweating.

Pus is caused by the breakdown of inflammatory cells produced by the body to fight infection. Typically, pus forms during the course of a bacterial infection. Although neutrophils (type of immune system cell) initially engulf and kill bacteria, they themselves are eventually broken down and become a major constituent of pus. All types of bacteria that cause disease are capable of producing infections that lead to pus.

Looking for a Doctor?

Find a Great Dermatologist Near You

In some cases, conditions other than bacterial infections can produce skin pimples or bumps that have the appearance of pustules. These include chickenpox, yeast infections, and herpesvirus infections such as cold sores or genital herpes.

The formation of pustules may be a symptom of a bacterial infection, which may be a serious condition. Seek prompt medical care if you have pustules that are persistent or recurrent or that cause you concern.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 7, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Pustules. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003234.htm
  2. Skin abscess. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000863.htm
  3. Bacterial infections.Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bacterialinfections.html
  4. Stevens DL, Bisno AL, Chambers HF, et al. Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of skin and soft-tissue infections. Clin Infect Dis 2005; 41:1373.

You Might Also Like

Share via Email

NEXT ARTICLE:

5 Things You Didn't Know About Sensitive Skin

Up Next

5 Things You Didn't Know About Sensitive Skin