Skin Care

What Is Fungal Acne, Everything You Need to Know Including Appropriate Treatment

What Is Fungal Acne? Everything You Need to Know Including Appropriate Treatment

There is nothing “fun” about fungal acne. When you get right down to it, fungal acne isn’t even acne at all, which is kind of confusing. Fungal acne is actually an infection in the hair follicles of the skin. If you are noticing acne like breakouts and blemishes in different places on your body, including your upper chest, back, upper arms, and shoulders, it may be diagnosed as fungal acne.

It looks like a combination of whiteheads along with skin irritation that can often be confused with bacterial acne. There are a host of reasons why you might develop fungal acne, but either way, you want it treated and eliminated quickly. You deserve to have healthy and smooth skin.

Having fungal acne problems can affect your life in a variety of negative ways. You may feel embarrassed or uneasy having parts of your skin exposed. Fungal acne is hard to hide. All the body makeup in the world just ends up looking cakey and unnatural on your skin.
That’s why it’s important to treat the problem correctly so that this skin infection doesn’t get worse.

At Folliculitis Scout, we’ve created the ultimate online community to share information on fungal acne, the best products to treat this skin condition, and the ones that are safe to use if you are prone to this very annoying skin issue.

Let’s look at everything you need to know about getting rid of fungal folliculitis fast with the right antifungal treatments and tips on prevention.

How fungal acne is diagnosed

Dermatologists classify fungal acne as Malassezia folliculitis or Pityrosporum folliculitis. Now here’s the confusing part that we mentioned before.

Fungal acne isn’t really acne at all, even though it does look like typical acne. The term is just the common name or layman’s term for this kind of infection that is caused by yeast. The yeast is called Malassezia, but it’s part of the same family that fungi belong in.

Additionally, in its commensal state, the Malassezia yeasts are integral parts of the skin’s microbiota.

When the microfloral equilibrium is disturbed, this is when the problem starts. As a result, the yeast is allowed to grow and flourish entering the hair follicles, causing inflammation, and itching in the affected area.

Other skin conditions associated with Malassezia, (the yeast responsible for fungal folliculitis) are:

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Tinea versicolor
  • Atopic dermatitis


Of course, it’s important to know that both fungal and bacterial infections can exist at the same time on the skin.
So while these “acne like” pimples that are produced by the fungal infection may resemble acne vulgaris, they are not.
Furthermore, it’s vital to not overlook the “fungal component” of fungal acne since many conventional acne treatments will not work for this skin condition.

The inflammation and fungal acne occur in the tiny hair follicles that are all over the skin. It can be itchy and makes your skin uncomfortable to deal with. There is nothing worse than trying all the wrong treatment products which aren’t tackling the issue of yeast overgrowth. It’s also important to see that traditional acne treatments tend to fail treating fungal acne.


Check out this short video on fungal acne from the perspective of a board-certified dermatologist.


What fungal acne looks like versus regular acne

A Close Up Of What Fungal Acne Looks Like On The Forehead

As previously stated, fungal acne is actually a type of infection in the hair follicle where an overgrowth of yeast is happening. It can look like little white bumps on the skin, similar to how whiteheads appear. Most of these fungal acne bumps will all look the same. They have a uniformity in texture that is common for fungal acne. It’s more likely to appear on parts of your body than your face.

Although It’s more likely to appear on parts of your body than on your face. Fungal acne can, unfortunately also appear on the face too, like on the forehead and t-zone. The cause of fungal acne on the face can be due to underlying health issues, the overuse of harsh skincare products such as exfoliants, active ingredients, sweating from excessive heat, oily skin, and a dysfunctional skin barrier.

When you are able to heal the skin’s barrier, you have a better chance of getting rid of the fungal acne since that’s your body’s defender that keeps the skin’s microbiome in check.
Getting the right diagnosis of fungal acne versus regular acne is going to help you mitigate the problem especially if you have been dealing with years of stubborn adult acne.

Regular inflamed acne on the face is due to hormonal changes, an overproduction of oil that is clogging your pores, or bacteria that is flourishing on your skin.

There are so many different types of acne that can happen on different parts of the body. One of those types of acne can be cystic which are deep bumps that form under the skin. Another kind of acne can appear as pus filled bumps that have come to the surface of your skin. Then there are whiteheads and blackheads.

All of these different kinds of breakouts make it hard to figure out what’s regular acne versus fungal acne.

What causes fungal acne in the hair follicles?

Fungal acne on the body usually appears in clusters. It’s mainly caused by wearing clothing that is tight and restrictive, trapping heat and sweat on your skin. The moisture from your sweaty clothes being flush against your skin is the absolute perfect environment for the yeast responsible to grow and flourish causing fungal acne (yeast infection) to appear. Excess sebum production can be another reason for these acne like symptoms.  They just feast on that lipid content of sebum, which is an oily or waxy substance produced by your sebaceous glands.

Tight sweaty workout clothes are a problem, especially if you are working out but not showering off right away. With more and more people wearing athleisure wear, like yoga pants and leggings, as their regular clothing day-to-day, fungal acne is becoming a big problem for those that love this fashion look.

It can also be caused by certain internal factors and illnesses as well. Some of those are diabetes, people with Hodgkin’s or HIV, nutritional deficiencies, bone marrow recipients, and immune system disorders. It can be attributed to stress, obesity, or the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy. If you fall into any of these categories, you may be more prone to conditions of Pityrosporum folliculitis.

Determining whether it’s fungal acne or not

Of course, it’s best to see a dermatologist who will diagnose fungal acne properly, but there are ways to determine if that’s the case over regular acne. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do the bumps itch?

Fungal acne tends to be itchy and uncomfortable, whereas acne vulgaris doesn’t usually make you itch. Plus, it tends to burn when you irritate the fungal acne area by touching it.

Is it on your face?

Fungal acne is more common on the body, but it can also occur on your face. Fungal acne or Pityrosporum folliculitis treatment for the face is hard to resolve with regular facial acne products. It can be quite stubborn! That’s why coming up with the right fungal acne skin care routine can be a game changer when it comes to getting rid of F.A.

what does fungal acne look like?

Fungal acne is going to be in clusters that are uniform and almost rash-like in appearance. On the other hand, common acne lesions vary in size and shape on the skin, often appearing randomly rather than in large patterns.

How to treat fungal acne

This is the biggest question to answer about fungal acne. Obviously, if you have it, you want those irritating little bumps to be gone as quickly as possible. Having the right fungal acne skin care routine is key. There are sub-Reddit forums dedicated to fungal acne, where you can see all the potential solutions and different approaches people are taking to solve this problem. You’ll likely end up with some home remedies that work or don’t work. Some may even make the skin condition worse.

Here are some of the best ways to control fungal acne.

Makes some clothing adjustments

This includes not wearing very tight clothing. Say goodbye to yoga pants and lycra tops. Stick to loose-fitting clothing that is made of natural cotton material. It’s more breathable and won’t trap excess moisture on the surface of your skin making your fungal acne problems worse.

Don’t go to a steam room or sauna

These types of warm, humid, and moist environments are just going to be a feeding ground for that fungal infection to grow and multiply on your body. It’s best to avoid these sticky hot situations when you are trying to get rid of your fungal acne problems.

Unfortunately, for people that live in a humid climate, such as the southern part of the United States, their fungal acne problems might be worse. You may also experience a bigger outbreak of fungal acne at certain hotter parts of the summer wherever you live. People who are looking for fungal acne treatment options in the UK, might not have problems in the wintertime when it’s cold.

Shower after a sweat session

If you are getting hot and sweaty with your workouts, make sure you shower off as soon as possible. When you don’t have access to a shower, it might be helpful to bring some cleansing wipes with you to at least get some of that surface sweat off of your skin.

You are going to want to change out of sweat-soaked working clothing right after your gym session. The faster you’re able to get that moisture away from your body, the better.

Keep your bedroom cool at night

If you are sweating a lot in your sleep at night, that could be making the problem worse. Stick to keeping your bedroom temperature consistent each night at around 60-67 degrees because that’s what the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic recommends. It may help to change up your bedding to natural cotton fibers that are breathable and can wick moisture away from your skin.

Try fungal acne fighting products to get rid of the fungus.

This includes fungal acne shampoos, like Nizoral. That’s an antifungal treatment. The fungal acne killing ingredients in these types of shampoos are Ketoconazole or Pyrithione Zinc. Because Malassezia folliculitis and dandruff are generally brought on by yeast overgrowth, these dandruff shampoos are effective against fungal acne. You’ll want to lather up the area with the dandruff shampoo, leave it on the skin for three to five minutes, and then rinse well with lukewarm water.

Oral antifungal medication and topical prescription creams

Both of these treatments, whether it’s oral medication or a topical prescription are going to have to be prescribed by a doctor. If you really feel like your fungal acne is getting out of control, make an appointment with a dermatologist in your area. That way you’ll be able to get the right prescription medication to treat the problem and prevent breakouts.

Steer clear of products that make fungal acne worse

There are definitely products for your skin that are going to make fungal acne worse. That may include some soaps, shampoos, body lotions, and oils that you are currently using. The best way to find out if some ingredients in these cosmetic products will trigger more yeast growth is by typing the product’s ingredient list in our handy skincare ingredient checker at Folliculitis Scout.

Then you can find out exactly if your body products are considered “fungal acne safe.” Once the ingredient is entered into the checker, it will tell you if it’s a fungal acne trigger. Then it will give you suggestions on whether to avoid it or not. For example, argan oil is a lipid and is recommended that you avoid this ingredient if you are sensitive to fungal acne breakouts.
Ingredients in general that tend to feed fungal acne and make it worse are oils, fatty acids, some fatty alcohols, and esters.

Other commonly asked questions about fungal acne

Does a fungal acne diet work?

It might help to make adjustments to your diet. An antifungal (pityrosporum folliculitis) diet consists of eliminating foods that promote the growth of yeast. That includes excess sugars and white flour. You may want to avoid foods that include yeast itself, like certain types of vinegar and mushrooms.

Another category of foods to avoid that may make fungal acne worse is dairy. Studies have shown that dairy has been known to cause acne by triggering inflammation in the body that may lead to breakouts. Plus, foods that are considered high-glycemic (raise blood sugar faster), and an increase in your dairy intake might lead to an increase in developing acne.

In looking at alcohol, beer and wine contain yeast that may make the problem worse. It’s best to avoid these things as much as possible. Overall, a healthy fungal acne diet full of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is best for anyone looking to improve their body from the inside out. It may also help to incorporate some good supplements for fungal acne, for example, this dairy-free probiotic for women and men with strong immune support.

How do dermatologists treat fungal acne?

After being medically reviewed, your dermatologist is more likely to prescribe oral medication and topical treatments for these pimple like bumps. This can help to get a hold of the problem quickly without a lot of trial and error with different skincare products.

What kills Malassezia on the face?

The best course of action is to get an antifungal prescription from your doctor. Then you’ll want to use antifungal skincare products at home. That may include finding the right skincare products that will treat the issue and not make it worse. On our website, the best fungal acne products are going to be marked with a green checkmark which means that they will put you on the road to clearer and improved skin health.

What’s the best treatment at home for fungal acne symptoms?

The best fungal acne treatment at home is going to be using a shampoo that contains anti-fungal ingredients all over your body. This method has been found to be the most effective. Some of those ingredients are Ketoconazole, Selenium Sulfide, or Pyrithione Zinc.

Other ingredients that have proven to be effective fungal acne treatments include Tea Tree Oil and Sulfur. Both of those have fungicidal properties that inhibit the growth of the fungus. For example, Dermalogica makes an Antifungal Body Wash, and Ego’s 20% Azelaic Acid Medicated Lotion would be a good idea to try if you’re displaying fungal acne symptoms.

Join the Folliculitis Scout Community

Above all know that you aren’t alone in your fungal acne problems. There’s a whole community of people with this issue that are ready to share their tips and tricks for treating the problem. We love our community at Folliculitis Scout! Socialize with us as well on Facebook. It’s so easy to join and become part of a community that truly supports each other through the journey to better skin.

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