First things first, your skin is unique and, as such, requires a bespoke skincare routine. What works for others may not work for you. This article isn’t going to tell you how to treat your skin, but rather how not to treat it.
Fungal acne looks like acne and can be mistaken for acne, but it’s different in many ways. The most important difference? Most acne treatments won’t work for fungal acne! Instead, you should seek out products with specific ingredients that will fight the fungus that causes it.
What is Fungal Acne?
Fungal acne is an unfortunate skin condition that can be easily confused with ‘real’ acne due to their similar appearance and symptoms. Fungal acne isn’t caused by bacteria like regular acne; instead, a certain type of fungus colonizes the hair follicles of your face (or body) and leads to blocked pores — hence the pimples. The main culprit of fungal acne is malassezia globosa, which is a yeast-like fungus that’s naturally found on the human body (it dwells on our scalps and faces!). Since this fungus is naturally present in
OK, so you have a little bit of acne on your t-zone, or maybe a couple of pimples located around your chin. You might even get the occasional cyst or pustule. Or maybe you have super dry skin and that weird white flaky stuff has been accumulating around your nose and forehead. Whatever the case, you’ve probably tried all sorts of things to “cure” it including lasers and peels, scrubs and oils, harsh prescriptions and every face wash under the sun. But … why is nothing working?
Turns out that most people are going about curing their skin in totally the wrong way. First off, there are plenty of different things that can be causing acne-like symptoms on your face. There’s acne vulgaris (which we all know as the typical pimple), rosacea (super common in people with fair skin) and even eczema (that really irritating red patchy skin that gets flaky no matter how much lotion you use). Then there’s fungal acne which is a whole other bag of worms…
I call it fungal acne.
It’s not actually acne. It’s this weird, inflammatory skin condition that can look a lot like acne, but it’s not. I know this because my face has been broken out for years and I finally found something that works—prescription anti-fungal cream. And since I started using it, my skin has been clear.
I had always assumed that the pimples on my face were just a result of bad hygiene or maybe stress, like everyone says. They would crop up around my chin and jawline, and then disappear for a while only to reappear again in a few days time. I would squeeze them (I know, don’t do that), and they would slowly disappear without leaving any scars (thank goodness). But even though they seemed to heal quite quickly, they kept coming back again and again.
I also noticed that I was getting these little bumps near my hairline every once in a while. They were more like whiteheads than pimples, and they didn’t hurt at all—just looked very strange. And if you squeezed them (again, don’t do that), you could see some sort of white substance come out of
Fungal acne is a Pityrosporum Folliculitis (PF) condition. A normal skin flora that grows in the hair follicle causing an inflammatory reaction. It can be genetic, or triggered by medications, antibiotics and high humidity.
Symptoms include: small white bumps on the face, neck, chest and back that are not filled with pus as seen in regular acne. The bumps are slightly red at the base and have no blackhead or whitehead. They may itch and be tender to the touch. Over time they will form into a cluster but usually not the big cystic pimples of regular acne. It is sometimes mistaken for keratosis pilaris because both conditions appear as tiny white bumps on the skin.
This condition is not caused by dirty skin nor can it be cured by washing your face anymore than a person with a rash on their arm can wash away their rash.
Fungal acne can also be confused with other skin conditions such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and demodex mites which all have similar symptoms but require different treatments.
The fungal acne causing yeast called Malassezia lives within our bodies in small quantities and is found on the skin of 75%
The term “fungal acne” is not a medical one. It is a colloquialism being used by beauty bloggers and cosmetic companies who have found that people will buy products that claim to treat malassezia folliculitis, which is the skin condition that looks like acne and has been colloquially dubbed “fungal acne.”
The truth is, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support the claim that malassezia folliculitis or pityrosporum folliculitis (the two terms are synonymous) is an infection of yeast or fungal species in the pores of your skin. Instead, it’s a condition of overgrowth of the normally benign yeast species Pityrosporum ovale. It causes inflammation in some people. That’s probably why you feel itchy, just as you might feel itchy if you had eczema or psoriasis.
Treating it with anti-fungal medications might help reduce the inflammation, but it’s not a cure for the condition itself. And anti-fungals can cause irritation and dryness on their own as well, so this could make matters worse for your skin. If you really want to get rid of the condition, you need to stop
“Fungal acne” isn’t really acne, and it might not be caused by a fungus. But it is a real skin condition, and it can be treated.
Here’s what we do know: pityrosporum folliculitis is not “acne.” It’s a specific type of inflamed hair follicle that tends to show up on the upper back, chest, shoulders, upper arms, and occasionally the face. While it can look like acne at a glance (hence the name), there are some key differences between the two conditions. Folliculitis tends to appear in clusters with no blackheads or whiteheads; acne has both. Folliculitis bumps are more inflamed and have a tendency to itch; acne usually doesn’t itch. And folliculitis is usually found on areas other than the face; acne is almost always on the face (with occasional forays onto the neck and back).
Fungal acne, also known as pityrosporum folliculitis, is a skin condition that is easily confused with traditional acne vulgaris. Acne vulgaris, commonly referred to as pimples, occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged by sebum and dead skin cells. These clogged pores can become infected by bacteria and result in an inflammatory response, causing pimples to appear red and swollen.
Folliculitis is a similar skin condition that occurs when hair follicles are infected by bacteria or fungus. Unlike acne vulgaris where breakouts typically occur on the face, back and chest, folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body that has hair including the scalp and groin area.
Treating fungal acne is different from traditional acne as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are not effective at killing fungus. Instead, topical antifungals such as ketoconazole are used to manage symptoms.
You may be wondering what causes fungal acne? It turns out that this skin condition is more related to your environment than genetics. The fungi associated with fungal acne grows in hot and humid conditions and is found in areas like the gym locker room or hot tub. These fungi can grow on your skin