Blackheads, pimples, and acne are a common experience, with an estimated 80% of people aged 11 to 30 having an outbreak at some point.
However, there are different types of acne, and in order to treat them effectively, you need to know what exactly are you dealing with.
Today, I’ll be explaining how to get rid of papules, a common type of acne that can be characterized by being slightly raised from the surrounding skin, often discolored or red, and most commonly roundish in shape.
Although very common, they can be a real pest to deal with, but nevertheless, there are ways to get rid of them and things you can do to prevent them.
I’ll let you in on how to deal with papules in much more detail below, but first, here’s a quick TLDR version of the answer you’re looking for:
What Is a Papule?
Most of us are familiar with skin blemishes.
After all, few people are lucky enough to go through their teenage years without at least a pimple or two. Talk about strong genetics right there!
However, nearly everyone has at some point in their lives encountered another type of skin blemish: the dreaded papule.
A papule is a small, solid, and inflamed skin lesion, usually less than one centimeter in diameter. It looks like a red bump on the skin.
The area becomes discolored, and the papule appears slightly raised from the surrounding skin and can also be painful to the touch and feel like they are deeply rooted within the skin.
Sometimes the papule may be accompanied by additional skin conditions like crust and scaly patches, but this is not always the case.
Usually, they are harmless, though in rare cases, they may indicate a more serious problem.
What’s Inside a Papule?
The difference between a papule and a pustule is that the papule appears as a closed red bump that is hard and painful to the touch, and a pustule is a type of pimple that has a white head in the center (the one that’s ready to pop at any given moment).
But, they come from the same “material” so to speak.
Ultimately, the major cause for any type of pimple is a clogged pore and the blockages that cause the clogged pore have only one place to go, which is out.
However, sometimes a pore clogged with sebum (the natural oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells become so irritated to the point where its walls break due to the pressure of the gunk inside it.
This rupture allows all the cellular debris and bacteria to spill into the dermis, which is the deeper and most active layer of the skin, underneath the epidermis.
Your body then sends white blood cells (which are the fighters of your immune system) to travel to the source of the bacteria and start addressing the damage.
This causes redness, pain, soreness, and inflammation or the firm, red bump we call a pimple.
Basically, the “stuff” inside a papule is called pus, which contains dead white blood cells.
How to Get Rid of Papules (Explained)
Depending on the severity of a papule, you may be able to treat it at home or visit a doctor for medical treatment.
However, here are some methods that you can implement to treat papules at home:
Creams and ointments.
Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide treatments can help heal acne papules and prevent new blemishes from forming.
Also, be sure to read out my article on how Benzoyl Peroxide works to make sure you are using this highly effective treatment in the right way for great results.
In addition, you can also opt for exfoliants that contain sulfur and salicylic acid like the 2% BHA Exfoliating Solution by Paula’s Choice that does a great job at deeply cleansing your pores and removing all the gunk trapped inside.
A warm compress can soften the spot, allowing the pus to come to the surface and help a “blind” papule come to a head where it will pop on its own at any given moment without causing any pain or further inflammation on your skin.
Tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is a great antibacterial agent, and it has shown itself effective in reducing the number of acne lesions and the severity of the breakout.
However, make sure you dilute tea tree oil with purified, warm water before dabbing it on the papule, as this is quite a potent agent that has the potential to irritate or even burn the skin if not used properly.
Retinoids and zinc, in particular, can be useful helpers in getting rid of acne and the gunk trapped inside your pores that’s causing them.
Check out my previous article detailing the 5 key benefits of zinc for the skin.
However, let’s take a look at the more preventative options when it comes to papules.
3 Tips To Prevent Papules
Acne is typically caused by the excess oils produced by the sebaceous glands that can sometimes become trapped inside the pores.
However, keeping the skin clean and using the right products for your skin type can reduce breakouts, prevent acne from developing, and maintain your skin smooth and well-hydrated.
Let’s take a look at some useful tips that will help you prevent acne breakouts.
Throughout the day and night, excess oils, dirt, and impurities can build up on the surface of your skin and can clog your pores, which we already know will inevitably lead to unwanted breakouts.
Therefore, you have to make sure you remove all the impurities from your skin and diligently cleanse your skin by using a gentle cleanser.
Check out my super-detailed article showing you how often you should cleanse if you have acne for extremely relevant information that will change the way you cleanse your skin forever.
Exfoliation is important.
Exfoliation happens regularly in a good self/skincare regimen.
By exfoliating your skin, you remove the build-up of dead skin cells and any lingering dirt that can cause breakouts on your skin’s surface.
Additionally, regular exfoliation reveals a soft, smooth skin layer with a lovely radiance and appears healthy but be sure not to over-exfoliate.
Avoid touching your face.
Touching your face isn’t an easy thing to just stop doing.
However, by constantly touching your face, you just keep piling the germs and the zillion other things you touched throughout the day directly on your skin.
Dirt, oil, and s*it tons of bacteria translate to inevitable skin problems in the long run.
You may also find my article on how to treat & prevent acne extremely helpful for additional information.
Can You Pop a Papule?
While the DIY approach of the issue might make for awesome YouTube videos or Pinterest articles, the truth is that squeezing stuff out of your own pimple is generally a bad idea.
The bacteria on your hands, especially underneath your nails (yes, we have all hell under our nails without even knowing it) can very quickly get into the open and already inflamed pores and cause even further infection.
Moreover, popping your inflamed papules at home without the proper technique can contribute to some serious and quite permanent scarring.
Doctors can extract smaller, non-inflammatory acne like blackheads using tools like the comedone extractors.
However, for more severe acne such as papules, cysts, and nodules, injection with medicine that makes the swelling go down may be needed.
If the cyst appears to be large, these are usually cut open and drained in a medical setting.
No matter how annoying it is, you should always remember this:
Leaving a papule to heal on its own will not cause any type of visible scarring on your skin.
Getting rid of papules can be a long and exhausting process; however, these are tips that will help you prevent acne from appearing in the first place, and these are much easier compared to actually treating the condition once it’s there.
I am always here to encourage you to take good care of your skin.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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