What Is Fungal Acne? Dermatologists explain the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for fungal acne

Unfortunately, there are no traditional acne treatments that will work.

Whether it’s red and bumpy, capped with a whitehead or blackhead, painfully swollen under the skin, or scattered across more than just your face (hey, bacne! It’s acne. It’s caused by the same stuff and treated the same way, no matter where it is, what it looks like, or how it feels.

We hate to tell you this, but it is true. Not all types of acne are the same; fungal acne, in particular, has an entirely different cause than most other types, which means–you guessed it–the treatment is different, too.

Here are the facts about fungal acne.

What is fungal acne?

Clogged pores are the most common cause of acne. While the causes of acne can vary between individuals (hormones and skincare products, diet, medications, etc.), the actual acne is the same. Your skin reacts to irritation by clogging the tiny hair follicles. This can cause red, raised bumps (pimples), which may not have a white opening or a black “head.”

Malassezia, also known as pityrosporum folliculitis, is a fungal form of acne. Malassezia yeast is an inhabitant of the skin. However, it can grow in certain circumstances,” Ashley Jenkins, MD, a dermatologist from University of Missouri Health Care, tells Health. It can cause inflammation of the hair follicles and lead to acne, says Dr. Jenkins.


What causes fungal skin?

An overgrowth causes fungal acne in the Malassezia yeast. These can be:

  • Living in hot and humid climates
  • High oil gland production
  • Frequent sweating due to climate, exercise, or medical conditions
  • After exercising, don’t change into clean clothes
  • Some medications, such as antibiotics, may be restricted.
  • Avoid wearing tight and restrictive clothing, especially in warmer climates
  • Some medications or immunosuppressive conditions may be present.

Dr. Jenkins says that age and gender could also be factors in your risk factors. “It is most common in adolescents, young men, but it can also happen in women.”

What are the symptoms and appearance of fungal acne?

Dr. Jenkins says that fungal acne is more prevalent on the back and chest because these areas are more often covered by clothing. This makes them more susceptible to becoming hot, sticky and sweaty, and less ventilated.

Itchy, rashy, and uniformly shaped, fungal acne can look different from normal acne. Red bumps can also appear simultaneously.

Amie Sessa MD, a Maryland-based dermatologist, tells Health that it may appear more quickly and that the breakouts tend not to be as sudden. They are more likely to have bumps, and they can also be itchy.

What are the options for treating fungal acne?

Fungal acne is not caused by oil production. You can’t just apply salicylic acid to an existing outbreak and expect it to disappear. If you want to reduce fungal acne, you must target yeast overgrowth on your skin.

Dr. Sessa recommends treating mild acne with an over-the-counter antifungal cream, shampoo, or gel, such as Nizoral. This will help to balance the yeast in your skin. This may not be enough for you. In that case, you should see a dermatologist.


Dr. Sessa says, “Most often, you will need an oral medication [like a sistemic antifungal] because the yeast can be too deep within the follicles to allow the topical medications reach.” If someone is prone to this condition, we may recommend a medicated rinse as maintenance.

If you have fungal acne, you will likely need to maintain your skin for some time.

Dr. Jenkins explains that acne can recur because of many ongoing risk factors. He also explains that hormones in adolescence can run for years, and you can’t move out of Florida or any humid climate just because you have it. This is the.

Can you prevent fungal acne?

Malassezia yeast is a common skin condition that affects everyone. It’s impossible to get rid of it all. This makes it difficult to prevent fungal acne, especially as Dr. Sessa, Dr. Jenkins, and others say some people are more susceptible.

Your goal should be to create a routine that keeps the yeast under control. These strategies might help control Malassezia overgrowth.

  • For long periods, avoid wearing restrictive or tight clothing.
  • After a sweaty workout, shower and change into clean clothes.
  • Antifungal shampoo can be used as a body wash a few times a week to limit or prevent breakouts.
  • Consider using acne-fighting or exfoliating body washes, as well (yeast feeds on oily skin and may grow more when the skin hasn’t been thoroughly cleansed).
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