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  5. Acne Pustules: Causes, Symptoms & Ayurvedic Remedies

Is that pimple on your face right before an important event making you feel uncomfortable? Are you wondering how to quickly treat the bulging pustule and make it disappear? You are not alone in the fight against pustule acne. Many people face the challenge of acne pustules in their adolescence and adulthood.

Scroll down to know the causes and symptoms of pustules, and its treatments including home remedies and Ayurvedic remedies.

What Is A Pustule?

pustulous cystic acne

An inflamed or bulging pore blocked with cell debris, sebum, and pus is known as an acne pustule. It is also commonly known as a zit, blemish, whitehead, and pimple. Acne pustules may appear in any part of your body. However, they are more commonly found in your shoulders, back, neck, and face.

Various skin conditions like smallpox and acne may lead to the appearance of pustules. Pustules appear when you have an infection, which stimulates your immune system to combat it with white blood cells (WBCs). This activity leads to the formation of pus, which is the combination of dead white blood cells and infected fluid. When this accumulates in a pore or under the skin, it results in a pustule.

Acne pustules may develop at any age. However, it is more prevalent among teens and young adults who experience hormonal and physical changes which may lead to acne breakouts.

The treatments involve OTC (over-the-counter) topical ointments which have benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and prescription drugs like oral and topical retinoids.

Ayurvedic remedies and home remedies are also known to be effective in treating acne pustules. A good skincare regime which aims at maintaining clean and clear skin may also help avoid pustules.

What Do Acne Pustules Look Like?

One of the primary symptoms of an acne pustule is its physical form, which varies from other categories of acne. An acne pustule is an inflamed, red pimple which has a white top section filled with cream, yellow, or white-coloured pus. The pus bursts out when the acne pustule is broken or pierced.

In a few cases, a brown-coloured small dot is observed in the centre of the whitehead. This small dot is called the comedonal core which is accumulated debris blocking the skin pore.

Acne pustules usually appear near oil glands in your skin, especially in and around your shoulders, chest, back, and face. These may differ in size.

Contrary to non-sore acne blemishes, such as comedones, milia, and blackheads, acne pustules are usually reddened and tender to your touch.

What Causes Acne Pustules?

formation of acne process

Acne pustules occur when an already affected skin pore erupts and forms a swollen, red-coloured blemish on the skin known as a papule. The white blood cells then accumulate on the papule, and form the pus which fights against the bacteria or debris that has clogged the pore.

At this stage, the papule develops into an acne pustule which contains cell debris, bacteria, and sebum. The bacteria which cause acne pustules is known as Propionibacterium acnes [1].

Some of the causes and triggers of acne pustules include:

  • Specific medications
  • Accumulation of dirt and sebum in the pores
  • Hormonal changes during menopause, pregnancy, and adolescence

Symptoms Of Acne Pustules

Acne pustules may occur due to bacterial infections. Additionally, they may occur along with other symptoms that vary based on the underlying condition, disorder, or disease.

Acne pustules may occur along with symptoms localized to the skin or associated with other bodily functions such as:

  • Localized swelling, warmth, or redness
  • Localized pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches

Where Do Acne Pustules Occur?

Acne pustules are easily visible. These appear as small bumps on your skin’s surface. The small lumps are generally red or yellow with white in the middle. These may be painful and tender to the touch, and the affected skin near the lump may be inflamed and red.

The following regions of your body are susceptible to pustule formation:

  • Hairline
  • Pubic area
  • Underarms
  • Neck
  • Face
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders

How To Treat Acne Pustules?

showing how clogged pore become red papule pustule

Acne pustules usually heal and disappear with time, without any external medical intervention. But, as they appear as blemishes and bumps on your face, many individuals look for quick treatments to clear up their acne. In order to speed up recovery, there are well-known home remedies, Ayurvedic treatments, and over-the-counter ointments to treat acne.

A. Home Remedies

homemade clay facial masks at home

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is derived from the raw, unfiltered extract of pressed apples, or by fermenting cider from apples. The potent vinegar is well known for its efficacy in fighting several types of fungal and bacterial infections.

Apple cider vinegar is a powerhouse of organic acids which are beneficial for your skin health. One such organic acid is citric acid, which helps in inhibiting the growth and proliferation of P. acnes. Another important organic acid is succinic acid, which helps in reducing inflammation and redness. It also helps in minimizing acne-scarring in your skin.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar:

  • Dilute one cup of apple cider vinegar with three cups of water. Use more water if you have sensitive skin.
  • Cleanse your face and gently apply the diluted solution all over your face and neck using a soft cotton ball.
  • Allow it to dry for 10-20 seconds before rinsing off with normal water.
  • Repeat the steps at least twice a day for best results.

Important Note:

It is imperative to note that direct application of undiluted apple cider vinegar on your skin may cause irritation and burning sensation. Always dilute it with normal water before using it on your skin.

2. Cinnamon & Honey Mask

Cinnamon and honey have the efficacy to eliminate bacteria and prevent inflammation, which are the causative factors that set off acne breakouts.

Other studies [2] have shown that honey is highly effective in blocking the growth of P. acnes. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon and honey may prevent the formation of acne.

How To Use Cinnamon & Honey Mask:

  • Mix one tsp of cinnamon and two tbsp of honey to form a thick paste.
  • Cleanse your face and evenly apply the paste onto your face and neck.
  • Allow it to dry for 15-20 minutes, before rinsing off with normal water.
  • Repeat the steps once daily for best results.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a beneficial essential oil with multiple skin and health benefits. It is derived from the leaves of a native Australian tree called Melaleuca alternifolia. The potent essential oil is renowned for effectively eliminating bacteria and minimizing inflammation [3].

Research has found that application of tea tree oil prevents acne breakouts in your skin. It is imperative to note that it must always be diluted with normal water before application.

How To Use Tea Tree Oil:

  • Mix one tsp of tea tree oil with nine tsp of normal water.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the diluted mixture and gently apply onto the acne spots.
  • Apply a mild, herbal moisturizer if needed.
  • Repeat the steps once or twice daily for improved results.

4. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is derived from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, a North American shrub. It is a rich source of tannins. These have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Witch hazel is a popular agent in treating a wide range of skin conditions such as eczema, burns, acne, bruises, dandruff, insect bites, and varicose veins.

Studies have shown that witch hazel eliminates bacteria and minimizes inflammation and skin irritation, which may trigger acne.

How To Use Witch Hazel:

  • Mix one tbsp of witch hazel and one cup of normal water in a mixing bowl.
  • Allow it to soak for half an hour and boil the mixture.
  • Cover the bowl and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the stove and keep it aside for at least 10 minutes to cool down.
  • Filter and store the solution in an airtight container.
  • Clean your face and dip a cotton ball in the solution and gently apply it onto your face.
  • Allow it to dry for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off with normal water.
  • Repeat the steps at least once or twice daily for better results.

Important Note:

It is imperative to note that commercially available witch hazel solutions may not have tannins due to the distillation process.

5. Aloe Vera

A tropical plant, aloe vera leaves yield a clear gel which offers a host of skin and health benefits. The beneficial gel acts as an active ingredient in several soaps, ointments, creams, and lotions.

Aloe vera is commonly used in treating burns, rashes, abrasions, and various other skin conditions. The gel, when directly applied to your skin, helps in minimizing inflammation, treating burns, and healing wounds.

Aloe vera has sulfur and salicylic acid that are actively used in acne treatment. Studies have found that application of salicylic acid minimizes acne.

How To Use Aloe Vera:

  • Take a fresh aloe vera leaf and slice it open to extract the pure gel.
  • Apply the freshly extracted gel on your clean face.
  • Repeat the steps once or twice daily for best results.

B. Ayurvedic Treatments

In Ayurveda, your face is considered an integral part of your body as far as appearance and beauty is taken into account. Acne, also known as Yuvana Pidika, is a skin condition which mars the natural beauty in adolescence. When left untreated, acne may also leave permanent scars on your skin.

The skin condition, Yuvana Pidika, appears due to the implication of Rakta, Vata, and Kapha. Your natural habits, Swabhava, is also known as a trigger for acne. Hormonal fluctuations play a key role in the development of acne.

Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix shares, “Diet that is predominantly high in Kapha and Pitta aggravating foods like, dairy, spicy and oily foods tends to trigger pustules.”

Dr. Zeel also reflects about the importance of topical applications of clay, which works very well on a pustule. “Clay has Kapha and Pitta balancing action, which reduces the size and intensity of the pustule quickly," she says.

A few Ayurvedic herbs and remedies that can help tide over acne pustules are listed below. However, these need to be chosen according to your unique prakriti, and consultations with an Ayurvedic doctor can help.

1. Ayurvedic Herbs

  • Nimba: Neem is a popular blood-purifier which prevents skin infections
  • Haridra: Turmeric is antibacterial and minimizes sebum production
  • Daruharidra: Minimizes scarring due to acne, imparting a natural glow
  • Sariva: Is an excellent cooling and soothing agent and blood purifier
  • Chandana: Repairs and soothes skin inflammation
  • Jatiphala: Minimizes acne scars and heals skin
  • Amalaki: Nourishes the skin and purifies the bloodstream
  • Draskha: Improves skin complexion by minimizing acne scars
  • Khadira: Acts as a blood-purifier

2. Ayurvedic Medicine

  • Aravindasava: Blood tonic
  • Chandanasava: Regulates sebum production in oily skin complexion
  • Usheerasava: Blood purification
  • Avipathi Choornam: Balances pitta dosha, especially when the acne pustules are due to hot weather
  • Triphaladi Kashaya: Deep cleanses the skin pores
  • Triphala Guggulu: Cleanses the skin pores and controls sebum secretion

C. Medical Treatments

Medical treatments [4] for acne pustules involve topical treatments, oral treatments, and photodynamic treatment.

1. Topical Treatments

Spot treatment is a part of topical treatments, which are applied to individual acne blemishes. Additionally, body washes, facial cleansers, and other skincare products are either available by a doctor’s prescription or over the counter in a pharmacy.

Some of the active ingredients commonly found in acne products include:

  • Topical antibiotics like erythromycin and clindamycin
  • Adapalene, which is similar to retinoid, and is available in both prescription and over the counter strengths
  • Retinoids like tretinoin that is extracted from Vitamin A
  • Benzoyl peroxide, that eliminates the acne-causing bacteria
  • Salicylic acid that acts as an exfoliant

2. Oral Treatments

Antibiotics like doxycycline, minocycline, erythromycin, and tetracycline are popularly used for treating acne. Isotretinoin, a potent oral retinoid, is usually prescribed for treating severe acne breakouts

A Word Of Caution:

Please note that isotretinoin must be used with extreme caution as it may lead to birth defects.

3. Photodynamic Therapy

A medical process known as photodynamic therapy may be advised for treating severe acne breakouts. It synchronises light and a light-activated solvent to close the sebum glands in your skin. This greatly helps minimize the amount of sebum secreted in the skin pores, thereby minimizing comedones.

Vedix Tip: Popping or breaking pimples may lead to permanent scarring and severe infections in your skin. Additionally, it may also extend the time taken for clearing up the blemish. We strongly discourage you from popping, breaking, or touching pimples to avoid ill-consequences.

How To Prevent Acne Pustules?

If you experience frequent acne breakouts, there are numerous simple yet effective measures which can help you prevent blemishes like pustules. These tips include:

1. Showering or bathing after a strenuous workout or exercise session to remove sweat and oil which can lead to acne breakouts

2. Using makeup, moisturizers, sunscreens, and other skincare products which are non-comedogenic, as they don’t trigger a breakout

3. Regularly shampooing and cleansing your hair to prevent breakouts near your hairline

4. Keeping your skin clean and clear by gently cleansing it twice daily with a mild, herbal facial cleanser

When To See Your Doctor About Acne Pustules?

1. Acne pustules which suddenly appear in clusters in your body or face may demonstrate that you have a severe bacterial infection. Immediately consult your dermatologist or Ayurvedic physician if you observe a sudden appearance of acne pustules in your skin.

2. You must also seek medical advice if the acne pustules are raw, red, and painful or pus-filled. These symptoms may indicate a serious skin condition.

3. Along with acne pustules, if you experience the following symptoms, then you must immediately consult your dermatologist or Ayurvedic physician:

  • Large acne pustules which are extremely raw and painful
  • Pain in the surrounding skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Clammy skin
  • Warmth
  • Fever

Frequently Asked Questions About Acne Pustules

woman with acne problem squishing pimples

1. How Long Does It Take For A Pustule To Go Away?

It usually takes 4-5 days for an acne pustule to completely develop and another 4-5 days to heal and disappear on its own, without any medical intervention.

2. What Happens If You Don't Pop A Pustule?

In general cases, when you don’t pop a pustule, it resolves on its own within a week’s time. You may see that the pustule is leaking fluid. If this occurs, then apply aloe vera gel or hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball. Avoid touching your face, especially the acne-affected skin to ensure that you don’t spread the bacteria any further.

3. What Is The Difference Between A Pimple & A Pustule?

Pustules are a type of acne which contains a white or yellow-coloured fluid. These are larger than blackheads and whiteheads. Pustules form white bumps which are hard or red bumps with white dots in the middle. In most of the cases, the affected skin in and around the pustules is inflamed or red.

Pimples occur when the sebum glands become aggravated and your skin pores become clogged and inflamed. Pimples appear in different forms. These include nodules, cysts, papules, pustules, whiteheads, and blackheads.

The Last Word

Acne pustules are prevalent in teens and young adults, which is often harmless. However, as they are unsightly and painful, they can cause you discomfort if left untreated. A healthy lifestyle and dietary plan may help prevent and treat acne pustules and other skin blemishes. From quick and simple home remedies, age-old Ayurvedic treatments to prescription treatments may also help resolve acne pustules.

Know Your Dosha Now

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