Fungal Acne: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Elisa Ansar on

Care and measures for fungal acne for a symptom-free skin.

There are many types of acne, and each affects the skin in different ways, either through breakouts, small spots, or scaring. In particular, "fungal acne" occurs when an overgrowth of yeast fungi normally found in the skin flora develops and attacks the pilosebaceous glands (hair follicles with a sebaceous gland), causing swelling, itching and other effects.

Fungal acne is manifested by reddish outbreaks of pustules (pimples) and papules that are not removed by common acne treatments (creams, peels, etc.), are sensitive, itchy, and react strongly to the corticosteroids contained in antibiotics.

When treating fungal acne, the principle of "less is more" applies. In early stages, fungal acne can be treated gradually with cleansing routines using gentle, non-irritating and non-aggressive chemical products. Especially this type of outbreak responds to medications that do not reduce acne vulgaris, but can even exacerbate it.

Treating fungal acne is a process that requires patience and understanding. In order to feel comfortable in your own skin, the first step is to understand that each development is unique, and not to resort to hasty invasive procedures that affect even more areas in need of care. With gentleness, consistency and persistence in treatment, it is possible to heal and find a balance between care and everyday life.


Causes of fungal acne

Folliculitis is very common. When a follicle in the skin becomes inflamed, it swells, itches and forms small bumps, similar to acne vulgaris. It can occur on the face, back, and arms. In mild cases or in the early stages (not so extensive rashes that improve with treatment with antifungal drugs) it can be treated at home, while in advanced cases it is advisable to consult a specialized dermatologist.

There are several types of folliculitis, each defined by its origin, the infecting organism and its effects on the skin. They are caused by daily activities such as shaving, whirlpool baths and sports. Basically, it can occur on any part of the skin that is hairy and where conditions exist for the proliferation of factors that infect these follicles.

Fungal acne is actually Malassezia folliculitisalso known as Pityrosporum folliculitis. It is an infection of the hair follicles with sebaceous glands located along the skin with an excess of fat-loving yeasts, especially M. globosa, M. sympodialis, and M. restricta, which also cause other dermatitis such as dandruff. The yeasts of the Malassezia family naturally colonize the skin. When they invade the follicle, they cause small itchy swellings that are made worse by sweating.

There are certain factors that promote the development of this folliculitis. In general, the fungi develop more easily in environments with high heat and humidity. Excessive sweating, high sebum production, pore clogging from oils and sunscreens (if not cleansed effectively, product residue will remain on the skin), some components of antibiotics and immunosuppression are all factors that can lead to folliculitis.

Signs of fungal acne

Pityrosporum folliculitis is often confused with the more familiar forms of bacterial acne. However, because it is a rash rather than acne, reactions to common anti-acne products may be opposite or not have the desired effect. Dermatologist Maren Locke has described the characteristic signs of Malassezia folliculitis on her Youtube channel dedicated to skin care:

  • Small red bumps similar to some forms of acne. However, since they are a product of folliculitis, they are actually the result of inflammation of the follicles by excess yeast.
  • Appears as a rash.
  • It causes itching.

They are similar in size and clustered in the affected area

Differences between fungal acne and other types: care, prevention, and characteristics.

The first step to recovery is to determine the type of acne. Properly treating fungal acne instead of acne vulgaris can make a big difference. Skin affected by fungal acne tends to be sensitive and reacts to regular acne treatments with ingredients such as retinoids, oils or acids that can irritate.


Fungal acne

Bacterial acne

Signs and symptoms

Even distribution of reddish pustules of equal size. It itches and often appears on the arms, chest and back.


Their location and size vary, instead of outbreaks they occur scattered. It does not itch and occurs mainly on the face.


Pityrosporum folliculitis, which is a lipophilic yeast fungus found throughout the skin that invades follicles under certain conditions


It is a combination of hormones, follicles clogged by lipids, impurities, or certain bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes.



Following skin improvement routines with certain products and eliminating habits that promote persistent dampness topical treatments with econazole or ketoconazole, sometimes by prescription, as well as oral treatments (medications to control the balance of fungi and bacteria on the skin)


Depending on certain factors: topical anti-acne preparations, antibiotics, retinoid products, etc.


If you take gentle care of your skin, educate yourself on the proper steps to take, and be patient, you can greatly improve your relationship with your largest organ. Beyond instant answers, it is advisable to find personally appropriate products and methods. By understanding the uniqueness of each skin through proper care, it is possible to find results that create wellness.


Mushroom Acne Care


Recommendations for affected skin care

Skin-dwelling yeast fungi spread more easily in a warm, moist environment. Since Pityrosporum folliculitis or "fungal acne" is not a normal form of acne, the most important guideline for treatment is that it should be antifungal, that is, aimed at eliminating the fungus and stopping its spread.

This is why it is necessary to establish a routine to stop the proliferation of yeast and reduce the conditions that favor the development of folliculitis.

  • Regular showering: After exercising at the gym, in humid summers, or playing outdoor sports, clothes are often sweaty. The excess sweat and oils left on the skin create the warm, damp spots that stimulate yeast growth. Therefore, showering after the gym or workout and when you get home helps to cleanse the skin and remove the excess of these naturally created products. It is best to use a shower gel with a ph value in the range of 5.5.
  • Wear breathable clothing: Latex, Lycra fabrics or thicker materials suppress the skin's natural air circulation. Friction and lack of air circulation can promote the spread of yeast on the skin. Wearing clothes made of air-permeable materials stimulates the body's thermoregulation, reduces moisture accumulation and oxygenates the skin.
  • Don't rub or press on pimples:When it itches, the first instinct is to rub the skin to relieve the sensation, but this can make folliculitis worse. Nails usually contain impurities or debris from anything they come in contact with (even if it is not visible). Scratching or rubbing the skin with folliculitis can further infect the follicles, irritate more areas of the skin, and encourage the fungus to fill those pores..

Cleansing, balancing and gentle skin care routines for fungal acne

Skin health is always about balance. Treating any type of acne can be exhausting, but if you understand the individuality of each process, wait patiently for results, and stay consistent with your care, you can achieve short- and long-term wellness that reflects inside and out.

The treatment of fungal acne is basically about restoring the balance of the natural skin flora. Pityrosporum folliculitis is not the conventional known form of acne and therefore requires a different treatment. Many antifungals are available over the counter and contain active ingredients that help fight folliculitis.

The yeast that causes folliculitis is also the yeast that causes seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff. Therefore, the use of dandruff shampoos whose active ingredients have antifungal properties, such as zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole, can give positive results when incorporated into the daily showering of the areas with the rash; when cleansing with these products, simply apply to the areas where the rash occurs and rinse off after a few minutes.

Anti-acne products such as sulfur-based soaps, ointments or masks that do not contain retinoids also have antibacterial and antifungal effects against this type of folliculitis. The sulfur cleanses while balancing the natural skin flora and reducing the formation of grease.

One of the main characteristics of skin fungi is that they easily multiply not only in hot and humid areas, but also on naturally oily skin. When the skin is sensitized by folliculitis, it is necessary to use cleansing products for the affected areas that are mild and have properties that regulate sebum production, remove daily residues (makeup, creams, sunscreens, etc.) and at the same time are gentle to the skin.

Alumina Cleansing Balm: A gentle cleanser

Our gentle Cleansing Balmbased on organic oils and white clay is a versatile cleanser whose ingredients gently remove everyday dirt, regulate the balance of sebum and bacteria, and reliably remove makeup and sunscreen. It is ideal for oily, blemished and acne-prone skin.

This cleanser contains a range of active ingredients that fit seamlessly into the care of folliculitis skin. Not only does it provide skin health benefits, but it also leaves skin feeling cool, is anti-inflammatory and non-irritating; a gentle component in the skin care routine that can be used both to care for skin with fungal acne and to maintain its balance as it recedes. The clay cleanser can be removed with lukewarm water without leaving any residue.

  • White clay: Regulates sebum production, is a gentle cleanser and has a soothing effect.
  • Coconut oil: Has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which in turn regenerate, soothe and leave a refreshing feeling; as a washable product, it leaves no greasy film on the skin.
  • Glycerin: An active ingredient that moisturizes and helps maintain the acid mantle of the skin. Soothes irritation; strengthens the skin barrier and protects against environmental influences.
  • Glyceryl Caprylate: Regulates moisture and is an effective antimicrobial factor.

All skin areas where folliculitis occurs should be treated with gentle products that regulate sebum and oil production, reduce irritation, and thus prevent the proliferation of the fungus.


Frequently asked questions

Can I get this type of folliculitis as an adult?

Yes, Malassezia folliculitis is not limited to a certain age group. However, teenagers and adult males are more likely to have increased sweat and sebum production and irritated skin from shaving - conditions that favor the appearance of the rash.

What skin care products should I avoid?

Mainly very heavy moisturizers and oils. The increased supply of fats makes it more likely that the yeast fungus can multiply more easily under other conditions.

Is it possible that fungal acne will return?

Yes, this type of rash is more likely due to conditions such as temperature and lifestyle and if there is a precursor to yeast production on the skin. By adjusting lifestyle, following proper hygiene routines and paying attention to skin condition, it is possible to mitigate the effects of recurrent folliculitis so that after the fungal acne subsides, preventive treatment is maintained.

What should I do if the problem does not go away?

In this case, it is always advisable to consult a specialized dermatologist who can recommend products with specific concentrations of antifungal agents.

Seeing skin care as a whole and understanding the specifics of each of us can greatly facilitate the healing process of fungal acne on the skin. Rashes, itching or redness are manageable and can be effectively reduced with timely care, and patience and perseverance can be the key to healthy skin.

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