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Pimple with Pus: When Should You See a Derma?

Fact-checked by Vincent Sales

Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Nov 22, 2021

Pimple with Pus: When Should You See a Derma?

What Causes Pimple with Pus?

The main cause of pimple with pus is excess sebum that is trapped in the skin, combined with other factors such as bacteria causing acne and dead skin cells. There are several types of pimple with pus and each has its own causes:

Cystic Acne

This is a painful type of acne that is inflamed and filled with pus that lies beneath the skin. Cystic acne occurs in the skin due to pores that are clogged due to sebum and dead skin cells. This type of acne may worsen when bacteria enters the skin, causing the acne to become inflamed and to swell. Moreover, cystic acne is considered to be the most severe type of acne. Over time, cystic acne will lead to scarring as well. 

Other causes of cystic acne include:

  • Adolescence – This particular age group is more susceptible to cystic acne due to the strong fluctuation of hormones.
  • Family history of having cystic acne
  • Hormonal changes during adolescence – There are also instances when menopausal women experience cystic acne due to hormonal changes as well. 
  • Stress 
  • The appearance of cystic acne on the skin would be a red bump that is beneath the skin’s middle layer, and is painful when touched. The size could either be small or big, there would be a yellow liquid forming inside the pimple, and it would look crusty as well. 

    These often form in body parts such as the back, chest, shoulders, upper arms, neck, and butt. These parts of the body have oil glands in them, so it would make sense that acne develops there. 

    Nodular Acne 

    This type of pimple with pus shares similarities with cystic acne. But the main difference between the two is nodules do not appear to have pus in them. Also, the pus cannot be seen when you look at them, however, the pus lies deep within the skin. 

    Nodular acne is formed on the skin due to continuous inflammation of hair follicles that have bursted beneath the skin. Nodular acne is a type of pimple with pus that is painful whether it is being touched or not. People with nodular acne may also experience pain accompanied by a feeling that their acne is throbbing. 


    Pustules are a type of pimple with pus and is often referred to as pimples or zits. They are small in size, inflamed, and look like blisters on the skin. Pustules are quite common because they can be seen in most acne-prone skin and folliculitis. (This refers to the inflammation of hair follicles.) 

    Pustules are filled with inflammatory cells called neutrophils, and this type of acne usually indicates that the skin is infected (with a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection). Then there are some pustules that do not indicate that there is infection on the skin. Rather, they are sterile and are caused by an inflammatory skin disease. 

    Pustules are commonly found in body parts like the back, face, shoulders, breastbone, and areas that tend to sweat (groin and armpit). 

    Pimple with Pus Prevention 

    There is always a possibility that pimple with pus forms on the skin when a person is experiencing hormonal fluctuations. Luckily, there are a few tips that can prevent the formation of moderate to severe acne breakouts. 

    • Wash your face regularly using mild cleansing products. Avoid using products that dry the face. (These products usually contain alcohol.) 
    • Use a moisturizer. If your skin type is oily, then use an oil-free acne moisturizer. 
    • Try switching to non-comedogenic make-up products since these products do not clog the pores on the skin. Even though these products do not clog pores, you must still remove the make-up on your skin at the end of the day. 
    • Refrain from touching your face too often. 
    • Do not pop pimples with pus. It may be tempting to squeeze out the yellow pus coming out of the pimple, but you must refrain from doing so. It would be best to just leave it or go to a dermatologist and have it safely removed. 
    • Keep hair out of your face since there are oils in the hair that can transfer to the skin and irritate it. 
    • Keep away from high-glycemic diets as these encourage excess in sebum production. 

    When Should You See a Derma?

    You should go and visit a derma once you notice that your skin is not getting any better even after various treatments (topical medications for acne and oral medications). And you may also want to see a derma if you see that the pus inside your pimple is oozing out. Dermatologists can safely drain the pimple with pus. Lastly, if you are experiencing severe acne, such as cystic acne or nodules, then visit the derma right away. 

    Key Takeaway

    Pimple with pus is a normal skin issue and it affects almost everyone. These are treated and prevented by routinely cleansing the face and keeping it free from excess sebum. Once a person experiences severe acne, they should visit a derma immediately and have it examined. 

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Fact-checked by

    Vincent Sales

    Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Nov 22, 2021

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