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Pustules

Pustules are small, inflamed, pus-filled, blister-like sores (lesions) on the skin surface.

Pustules are common in acne and folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle). They may occur anywhere on the body, but are most commonly seen in these areas:

  • Back
  • Face
  • Over the breastbone
  • Shoulders
  • Sweaty areas, such as the groin or armpit

Pustules may be a sign of an infection. They should be checked by a health care provider and may need to be tested (cultured) for bacteria or fungus.

References

Habif TP. Principles of diagnosis and anatomy. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 1.

Marks JG, Miller JJ. Pustules. In: Marks JG, Miller JJ, eds. Lookingbill and Marks' Principles of Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 12.

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    • Pustules - superficial on the arm

      Pustules - superficial on the arm

      illustration

    • Acne - close-up of pustular lesions

      Acne - close-up of pustular lesions

      illustration

    • Acne - cystic on the face

      Acne - cystic on the face

      illustration

    • Dermatitis - pustular contact

      Dermatitis - pustular contact

      illustration

      • Pustules - superficial on the arm

        Pustules - superficial on the arm

        illustration

      • Acne - close-up of pustular lesions

        Acne - close-up of pustular lesions

        illustration

      • Acne - cystic on the face

        Acne - cystic on the face

        illustration

      • Dermatitis - pustular contact

        Dermatitis - pustular contact

        illustration

       

      Review Date: 10/8/2018

      Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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