Maybe You’re Breaking Out, Maybe It’s Fungal Acne?

by Alyx Carolus


Skincare is certainly not the most paramount topic in the world right now, but it’s always pertinent. Stress and a diet that doesn’t match your body’s needs can result in skin that makes you feel less than great. The global events happening are definitely a trigger for mental and physical health. You might even notice that your usual acne treatments aren’t doing the trick. Chances are, you have fungal acne or Malassezia folliculitis. Sound brand new to you? Read on to find out more about this skin condition that could be the reason behind those itchy, hard-to-get-rid-of bumps. 


So what is fungal acne?

The name gives it away somewhat, as fungal “acne” is brought on by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. According to this 2019 Self article, “It’s normal for this type of fungus to be living on your skin. But when it gets out of control, it can lead to fungal acne breakouts or other skin conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis.” If you’re a relatively sweaty person, like I am, it might be worse. Fungus loves a warm, damp environment and you might notice more breakouts if you’ve recently picked up a new workout routine and aren’t removing your workout gear as soon as you possibly can. 


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If you have breakouts that won’t budge, no matter what treatments you try, you could be dealing with fungal acne. Although the term fungal acne might be new to you, it’s not a new condition. In fact, it’s not even really acne. It is an overgrowth of yeast that hangs around in the hair follicles. The technical term: pityrosporum folliculitis or malassezia folliculitis. Fungal acne appears as inflamed, itchy, acne-like eruptions that are really pus-filled bumps. It shows up as breakouts in areas where you typically have a lot of oil — in your T-zone (forehead, nose, chin), chest and back. The telltale difference is that fungal acne can be itchy, and regular acne is not. Other clues: fungal acne is generally uniform in size and shape, and appears in clusters of small whiteheads. Fungal acne is especially frustrating to treat, because it looks so much like regular acne (which is caused by bacteria). My advise could be to use anti fungal cream daily on the area until it clears. Anti fungal ingredients include Salicylic Acid, Jojoba oil & Manuka oil. #boostyourbeauty #fungalacne #clearerskin #advancedskincare #acnewithatwist #loveyourskin #antifungal

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How can you tell the difference?

Acne comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, from those painful red cystic bumps to whiteheads and blackheads. In a Glamour UK article, Dr. Justine Hextall, FRCP Consultant Dermatologist explains, “With acne, the skin lesions are associated with whiteheads and blackheads and appear at different stages of evolution, but with yeast folliculitis, the spots often all look very similar and appear in crops.”


So, fungal acne is relatively uniform, will show up on the same parts of the face, and can be really itchy. It can sometimes mimic the look of a rash or a small whitehead breakout. The key difference is you’ll start noticing that acne treatments just don’t work, because they’re not targeting the fungus overgrowth on your skin but working on your sebum production. As this Allure article shares it’s best to look for small whiteheads that are about the size of a pinpoint, or specifically, one millimeter in circumference, and they’ll usually appear in clusters on the chest, shoulders, and back. In my own experience, my fungal acne showed up on my chest, face, and the sides of my cheeks.  


How to treat fungal acne

The first step would be to visit a professional and book an appointment with your dermatologist. The treatment can vary from person to person but the aim will be to treat the fungus and lessen the amount of breakout you’re having. A common way that some people have treated fungal acne by themselves is through an unlikely solution. Remember the mention of seborrheic dermatitis aka dandruff? Well, you might see some results when washing your face or body with an anti-dandruff shampoo. The remedy might sound a bit out there, but YouTuber Susan Yara, who runs the channel Mixed MakeUp, shared a fungal acne routine that included anti-dandruff shampoo Nizoral. 



The alternative is getting an oral antifungal prescription from a dermatologist that’ll help control the yeast overgrowth on your body and get to the root of the cause.  


How to prevent it

As mentioned before, fungal acne thrives in moist, damp environments and this refers to your body but also the climate you live in. If you’re in a hot and humid country, you may experience more breakouts on your face and body. You can combat this by wearing breathable clothing and steering clear of tight-fitting items that may trigger a flare. Be sure to remove your workout clothes immediately after a hot and sweaty workout. The longer you leave it on, the more likely you are to experience a breakout. 

Avoid using oils in your bodycare and skincare routine, as certain oil products can trigger a breakout. While there isn’t one comprehensive skincare list, you can search online if a product is fungal acne safe. Yeast overgrowth is definitely impacted by what you’re consuming on a daily basis. Try lowering your overall sugar intake as too much will encourage overproduction of yeast. Anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, and good quality olive oil can play a part in helping calm down your skin. 


Have you dealt with fungal acne before? How are you treating your breakouts? Let us know in the comments below!


Image credit: Autumn Goodman 


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