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What is Fungal Acne & How Do You Treat It

by Adnan Shafique 28 Sep 2023


Fungal acne, also known as Malassezia folliculitis, is a common but often misunderstood skin condition that can be frustrating and challenging to deal with. Despite its name, fungal acne is not actually acne caused by bacteria; instead, it's a type of yeast infection that affects the hair follicles. In this blog, we will delve into what fungal acne is, its causes, and how to effectively treat it.

What is Fungal Acne?

Fungal acne is a skin condition characterized by small, itchy, pimple-like bumps that can occur on the face, chest, back, shoulders, and sometimes even the neck. These bumps are often uniform in size and can appear red or flesh-colored. Unlike traditional acne, fungal acne is not caused by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes but rather by an overgrowth of a type of yeast called Malassezia.

Causes of Fungal Acne:

Several factors can contribute to the development of fungal acne:

  1. Malassezia Overgrowth: Malassezia is a naturally occurring yeast on the skin, but an overgrowth can occur, leading to fungal acne.

  2. Humid Environment: Fungal acne tends to thrive in warm, humid conditions, which create an ideal environment for yeast growth.

  3. Sweating: Excessive sweating can provide the moisture needed for Malassezia to flourish.

  4. Use of Certain Skincare Products: Some skincare products, especially those containing oils, fatty acids, or heavy moisturizers, can exacerbate fungal acne by feeding the yeast.

How to Treat Fungal Acne:

Effective treatment of fungal acne involves targeting the underlying yeast overgrowth. Here are some steps to help manage and treat fungal acne:

  1. Antifungal Products: Over-the-counter antifungal creams or washes containing ingredients like ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione can be effective in reducing Malassezia overgrowth. Use them as directed.

  2. Use a Fungal Acne-Friendly Cleanser: Choose a gentle, fungal acne-safe cleanser to avoid further irritation. Look for ingredients like pyrithione zinc or salicylic acid.

  3. Avoid Triggering Ingredients: Avoid skincare and cosmetic products that contain oils, fatty acids, or ingredients that can feed the yeast, exacerbating the condition.

  4. Consider an Antifungal Shampoo: If fungal acne affects areas like the chest or back, using an antifungal shampoo with ketoconazole or selenium sulfide as a body wash can help.

  5. Maintain Good Hygiene: Shower after sweating, and change into clean clothes to reduce moisture and prevent yeast growth.

  6. Avoid Heavy Moisturizers: Opt for oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated without providing a food source for Malassezia.

  7. Be Patient: Fungal acne can take several weeks to improve, so consistency in your skincare routine is key.

  8. Consult a Dermatologist: If your fungal acne doesn't improve with over-the-counter treatments or if it's severe, consult a dermatologist for a professional evaluation and treatment options.

Preventing Fungal Acne Recurrence:

Once you've successfully treated fungal acne, it's important to take steps to prevent it from returning:

  1. Choose Fungal Acne-Safe Products: Be cautious with skincare and cosmetic products, ensuring they are fungal acne-safe.

  2. Maintain Good Hygiene Habits: Continue practicing good hygiene and avoid excessive sweating.

  3. Monitor Your Diet: Some studies suggest that diet may play a role in fungal acne, so consider reducing sugar and dairy intake.

In conclusion, while fungal acne can be a frustrating skin condition, it is manageable with the right approach. Understanding its causes and using appropriate antifungal treatments and preventive measures can help you achieve clearer, healthier skin. Remember that consistency in your skincare routine is essential, and if in doubt, consult a dermatologist for personalized guidance and treatment options.

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