What causes pustular eruptions and how to treat them effectively?

Symptom Database

Pustular eruptions are a common occurrence in dermatological conditions, often causing discomfort and distress to those affected. These skin conditions, characterized by the formation of pustules or small pus-filled bumps on the skin, can be caused by various factors ranging from infections to inflammatory reactions. Understanding the underlying causes of pustular eruptions is crucial in effectively treating and managing these conditions.

What are Pustular Eruptions?

Pustular eruptions refer to the development of pustules on the skin’s surface. Pustules are small, raised bumps that contain pus, a mixture of dead skin cells, white blood cells, and bacteria. These pustules can vary in size and may be surrounded by redness and inflammation. Pustular eruptions can occur in different forms, including acne, impetigo, and certain types of eczema.

Causes of Pustular Eruptions

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of pustular eruptions:

Skin Infections

Pustular eruptions can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. For example, impetigo, a common skin infection, often leads to the formation of pustules. Similarly, conditions like folliculitis, caused by bacteria infecting hair follicles, can result in pustular eruptions.

Inflammatory Skin Conditions

Various inflammatory skin conditions can trigger pustular eruptions. One such condition is psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells. In some cases, psoriasis can lead to the development of pustular psoriasis, a more severe form of the condition.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, particularly during puberty, can contribute to the development of pustular eruptions. Acne, a common skin condition characterized by pustules, is often associated with hormonal imbalances. Increased oil production and clogged pores can lead to the formation of pustules.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications, such as corticosteroids or certain antibiotics, can cause pustular eruptions as a side effect. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect that your medication may be contributing to your skin condition.

Treating Pustular Eruptions Effectively

While the treatment approach may vary depending on the underlying cause of pustular eruptions, there are several general strategies that can help manage and alleviate symptoms:

Maintain Good Hygiene

Keeping the affected area clean is essential in preventing further infection and promoting healing. Gently wash the area with a mild cleanser and warm water, avoiding harsh soaps or scrubbing vigorously. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments, such as creams or ointments, can be effective in reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Depending on the specific condition, your healthcare provider may prescribe topical corticosteroids, antibiotics, or antifungal medications.

Oral Medications

In more severe cases, oral medications may be necessary to control pustular eruptions. These medications may include antibiotics, antifungal drugs, or immunosuppressants. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and complete the full course of medication.

Moisturize Regularly

Applying a moisturizer to the affected area can help soothe dry and irritated skin. Look for moisturizers that are fragrance-free and specifically formulated for sensitive or inflamed skin.

Avoid Triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers that worsen pustular eruptions can significantly improve symptoms. These triggers can vary from person to person but may include certain foods, stress, or exposure to irritants. Keeping a journal to track potential triggers can be helpful in identifying patterns.

Seek Professional Advice

If over-the-counter treatments do not provide relief or if your symptoms worsen, it is important to seek professional advice from a dermatologist or healthcare provider. They can accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your pustular eruptions and recommend appropriate treatment options.


Pustular eruptions can be caused by various factors, including skin infections, inflammatory conditions, hormonal changes, and medication side effects. Understanding the underlying cause is crucial in effectively treating and managing these conditions. By maintaining good hygiene, using topical or oral medications as prescribed, moisturizing regularly, avoiding triggers, and seeking professional advice when needed, individuals can effectively manage pustular eruptions and alleviate symptoms. Remember, each person’s experience with pustular eruptions may vary, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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