The term “papules” is derived from the Latin word “papula” which means a pimple.

Dermatologists and all other physicians call any small solid rounded bumps on the skin a papule. This distinguishes it from a vesicle which contains fluid or pus and a macule which is flat and even with the surrounding skin.

Acne papules are one type of acne blemishes. The symptoms of acne are very visible, easily seen – a number of whiteheads or pimples covering the skin, causing discomfort ranging from mild to quite painful.

One of the most common symptoms of acne is papules. There are other types such as pustules, macules and cysts that are usually larger and more difficult to treat.


Papules have the following appearance:


  • Small, solid raised bumps on the skin
  • Color – brown, purple, pink or red
  • No visible pus of any kind – unlike whiteheads or blackheads which has a more visible center.
  • Size – may vary in size but usually have a diameter of less than 1 centimeter (less than 3/8 inch across).
  • Usually painless, but may become tender and irritated if touched. When scratched, they may open up and become crusty and infected.


Papules may have different shapes and are sometimes associated with other features such as crusts or scales. What distinguishes them from pustules or pimples is the absence of pus. Many dermatologists consider them as a middle step between a non-inflammatory and inflammatory lesion.



Although papules can be appear at any part of your body, it is very commonly found the nose, neck, face, back and chest due to clogged sebaceous follicles. These follicles produce oil and hair around the nose and on other parts of body, and when they clogged with dead skin cells and bacteria causes to an acne.

Papules begin with a hair follicle and some dead skin cells. If dead skins cells are not removed from the surface, they can form clogs in the follicles. Once a hair follicles is clogged, it can plug the entrance to the follicle and prevent the oils formed there from escaping and oxygen from entering. This creates an environment where bacteria can multiply and cause inflammation. Enough pressure from this build-up can break the follicle walls and spill bacteria into skin. What you see is the characteristic red bump or zit on the skin.


Most papules heal quickly and on their own. They do not usually result in scarring, since they are not a deep type of blemish. However, squeezing a papule can worsen the inflammation and result in it becoming a more difficult lesion to treat.So do not try to squeeze or pop a papule. It will worsen the condition and cause scarring.

Papules can be treated using topical as well as oral acne medicines.

Some of these topical treatment methods include:


  • Warm water compresses – it should not be hot
  • Antibiotics – includes Clindamycin (Cleocin T and Clindets), or Erythromycin (Akne-Mycin, A/T/S, Emgel, Erycette, Erygel, Erymax)
  • Retinoids – includes Adapalene (Differin), or Retinoic Acid (e.g. Retin A)
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Benzaclin Gel which contains Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Benzamycin which contains Erythromycin and Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Azelaic Acid (Azelex)
  • Acne Surgery by a well-trained expert

Oral acne medicines such as:

  • Antibiotics such as Tetracycline, Minocycline, Doxycycline, or Erythromycin
  • Birth Control Pills for women