If you thought pustules were bad, wait until you meet their evil twin–papules. Papules are very similar to pustules, when it comes to inflammation and redness. The main difference between the two is that there is no white, pus filled center in papules; that’s because they form a little deeper under the skin. A zit like this will appear as a pinkish-red bump. They’re also known as headless pimples.
Papules are unique because they typically can’t and SHOULDN’T be extracted. I say typically, because I have had papules that last over a week–as they shrink with treatment, the white center does eventually appear and can be extracted. At that point, you can use similar products and techniques I mentioned in the pustules post.
If you have a typical papule, you’re going to want to avoid squeezing or putting any pressure on it, especially on the center! This will push the bacteria down further and cause more inflammation and pain. Totally not what we want. Papules need to be approached with patience, kindness, and wisdom. So here are a few things that help me calm pimples like these:
Ice is hands down the cheapest, easiest, and most effective thing when it comes to inflamed papules. I usually take a couple of ice cubes in a clean paper towel, and gently hold it against the inflamed area. I do this for 30 seconds at a time, no more than 3 to 5 times per session (not a Doc, this is just what I do!). You can instantly feel some soothing, and with doing this a few times a day, you’ll notice the pimple will start to shrink and the redness will fade.
I’m honestly a broken record when it comes to this mask, but it slays so many different types of acne, including papules! It’s very soothing and yields dramatic, positive results the next day. I won’t babble on about it, because I’ve mentioned it a ton of times. Learn more about this mask and how it can heal your papules here!
100% pure essential tea tree oil is my tried and true! Many people who struggle with inflammatory acne benefit from tea tree oil, because it is anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. These are all the words you want to hear my acne-prone friends! I’ve found that tea tree oil always reduces the size of papules, soothes them, and helps slowly dry them out. There is a strong, almost minty scent to it, but you kind of get used to it after a few uses.
It’s vital that when you purchase tea tree oil, it is 100% pure essential oil. A lot of essential oils you see in grocery stores or on Amazon, tend to be diluted with unknown oils. This can worsen your breakouts, or cause irritation! I always purchase my essential oils from Eden’s Garden. They are affordable and pure, there’s no middle-man, and I trust the source!
You’re really supposed to dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil (like a facial oil), or add a single drop to your moisturizer. I’ll admit I’m guilty of dabbing a bit on my finger tip, and applying it to the infected area after I moisturize… BUT do as a say, not as I do! If you want to spot treat, you can mix a drop of tea tree oil with a moisturizer or facial oil, and apply it to the infected area with a Q-Tip. I usually do this at night, as essential oils can sensitize the skin. If you do it during the day, spot treat and let it absorb before you apply SPF.
I don’t have too many recommendations for papules, because I really think it’s best to leave them alone as much as you can. These three suggestions are simple, yet effective! They may take some time, but they always work! What papule remedies have you had success with?