A papule is an area of abnormal skin tissue that is less
than 1 centimeter around. A papule has distinct borders, and it can appear in a
variety of shapes. Papules are often called skin lesions, which are essentially
changes in the color or texture of your skin. Sometimes, papules cluster
together to form a rash.
In most cases, papules are not serious and can be relieved
with home treatments. However, if the papules appear soon after you start a new
medication, consult your doctor immediately.
will I recognize a papule?
Papules are usually small, only getting to be about the
width of your fingernail. Your papule may have a dome shape or it may be flat
on the top. Your papule may even be umbilicated, meaning it has a small
impression in the middle that looks like a navel.
do I have papules?
Papules can be caused by a number of conditions that affect
the skin. The most common ones are:
Dermatitis, the medical term for inflammation of the skin,
is the most common cause of a papule. Dermatitis is a condition characterized
by a rash, which can be made up of papules. Contact dermatitis
is the most common form of dermatitis. It’s caused when certain materials touch
the skin and create an irritation or allergic reaction. Common culprits
- latex and rubber
- chemicals and dyes on clothing
- poison ivy or other such plants
is a highly contagious disease that develops after an individual is infected
with the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox can create an extremely itchy rash
of papules on the skin. The papules will have different appearances throughout
This disease is easily spread through coughing and sneezing
and can be serious for:
- people with weakened immune systems
If you have never had chickenpox or have never been
vaccinated against the disease, you have a greater risk of being infected. However,
since most children have been vaccinated for it now, it is not as common anymore.
or atopic dermatitis, is another common cause of papules. Eczema is
characterized by itchy and scaly rashes, blisters, and extremely dry skin. The
exact cause of eczema is unknown. An individual with eczema is often bothered
by certain triggers. However, this condition is not caused by an allergy.
Eczema is most commonly seen in infants, however it may last through adulthood.
candidiasis is an infection of the skin that is caused by a fungus, most
commonly Candida albicans. Cutaneous candidiasis may also be called a
skin or yeast infection. The fungus causes diaper rashes in babies and oral
thrush or yeast infections in adults.
Other potential causes
Though less common, the following may also cause papules:
- an adverse reaction to a medicine
- lichen planus (a noncontagious skin
disease that often occurs on the wrist and is characterized by
reddish-purple, shiny bumps)
- psoriasis (a skin condition characterized by red, tough skin and
flaky, scale-like patches)
- shingles (a painful rash and
blisters caused by the varicella zoster virus)
- leprosy (a disease characterized by skin sores, muscle
weakness, and nerve damage)
- acrodermatitis (a childhood skin
condition that has been associated with conditions such as hepatitis B)
- bug bites
to see your doctor
If you’ve recently started a new medication and think you
have developed papules as a result, talk to your doctor about your concern.
Don’t stop taking any medications without letting your doctor know first. You
might also want to see your doctor if you have papules as the result of a bug
bite. Some bugs, such as ticks, can carry harmful diseases, such as Lyme disease. Lyme
disease can cause symptoms ranging from an uncomfortable rash to brain
inflammation. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms from a bug bite don’t get
better after home treatment.
of your papule
In many cases, you can treat your papule effectively at
home. Avoiding materials that irritate your skin can help clear the papules.
Some additional treatment steps include:
- Don’t scrub your skin during cleaning.
- Use warm water —not hot water — and gentle soaps when
- Don’t put makeup or perfumed lotions on the affected
- Discontinue use of any new makeup or lotion to see if
it’s the cause.
- Let the affected area get as much air as possible.
If you or your child has papules as a result of chickenpox,
the only treatment is letting the disease run its course. However, talk to your
doctor if your child has chickenpox and:
- is a newborn or infant
- has eczema
- already has a weakened immune system
These children may develop more serious complications from
chickenpox. Also notify a doctor if your child has chickenpox and someone else
in the household has a weakened immune system.
If eczema is the cause of your papules, you might want to
try bath products made of oatmeal that can soothe your skin. You can also
moisturize twice a day with thicker emollients.
you can prevent papules
Once you know the cause of your papules, you may be able to
prevent them. For example:
- Vaccines can help to prevent chickenpox,
according to the Mayo
- Breast-feeding babies younger than 4 months has
long been thought to help reduce their risk of having childhood eczema,
according to a review published in the journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology. This claim
is controversial and has been challenged in a number of studies, including a
worldwide review published in the British
Journal of Dermatology.
- Keeping your skin clean and dry can help prevent