Fungal Acne: Causes, Symptoms & Effective Treatments - Your Ultimate Guide

Fungal  acne  is  a  common  skin  condition  due  to  the  inflammation  of  hair  follicles.  It  occurs  because  of  the  overgrowth  of  Malassezia  yeasts,  especially  Malassezia  furfur,  which  is  present  abundantly.  

This  article  aims  to  provide  a  comprehensive  overview  of  the  clinical  features,  causes,  diagnostic  methods,  and  fungal  acne  treatment  options  available  for  fungal  acne.

What  is  Fungal  Acne?

It  manifests  as  small,  itchy  papules  or  pustules  on  the  skin.  It  primarily  occurs  on  the  face,  neck,  and  upper  trunk.  Proper  identification  and  diagnosis  are  essential  to  implement  effective  management  strategies.  

Managing  fungal  acne  includes  specific  antifungal  agents  and  lifestyle  modifications  to  alleviate  symptoms  and  prevent  recurrences.

How  do  I  know  if  I  have  Fungal  Acne?

Evaluating  your  skin’s  condition,  clinical  features,  and  characteristics  is  essential  to  determine  if  you  have  fungal  pimples  or  acne.  Fungal  acne  symptoms  include:

1)  Tiny,  uniform  pustules:  Fungal  acne  typically  presents  as  small,  raised  bumps  on  the  skin.  These  lesions  are  often  uniform,  ranging  from  1  to  2  millimetres  in  diameter.

2) Itchy  or  pruritic  lesions:  Fungal  acne  lesions  may  cause  itching  or  a  sensation  of  discomfort,  leading  to  scratching  or  rubbing  of  the  affected  areas.

3) Presence  of  white  or  yellowish  heads:  The  bumps  associated  with  fungal  acne  contain  a  white  or  yellowish  substance,  resembling  traditional  acne  that  looks  like  whiteheads.

4) Lesions  clustering: Fungal  acne  lesions  cluster  in  specific  areas;  these  include  the  forehead,  jawline,  chest,  or  back.  These  regions  typically  have  a  higher  concentration  of  sebaceous  glands.

5) Lack  of  improvement  with  traditional  acne  treatments:  It  could  be  a  sign  of  fungal  acne  if  you  have  been  using  common  acne  treatments,  such  as  benzoyl  peroxide  or  salicylic  acid,  without  significant  improvement.

6) Worsening  in  humid  or  sweaty  conditions: Fungal  acne  lesions  often  exacerbate  in  hot,  humid,  or  sweaty  environments,  as  moisture  and  heat  contribute  to  the  growth  of  Malassezia  yeasts.

If  you  suspect  you  may  have  fungal  acne,  it  is  advisable  to  consult  a  dermatologist  for  a  proper  diagnosis.  A  precise  diagnosis  will  guide  appropriate  treatment  and  management  strategies  tailored  to  your  needs.

Also Read: How to Cure Fungal Infection on Skin Naturally: 10 Proven Remedies

Who  might  get  Fungal  Acne?

Fungal  acne  can  affect  individuals  of  any  age,  gender,  or  ethnicity.  Sources show  that  the  following  individuals  are  more  likely  to  develop  fungal  acne:

1) Adolescents  and  young  adults:  Fungal  acne  commonly  affects  teenagers  and  young  adults,  as  hormonal  changes  during  puberty  can  increase  sebum  production,  creating  an  environment  conducive  to  the  growth  of  Malassezia  yeasts.

2) People  with  oily  or  acne-prone  skin:  Excessive  sebum  production  provides  a  favorable  environment  for  Malassezia  yeasts  to  thrive,  making  individuals  with  oily  or  acne-prone  skin  more  susceptible  to  fungal  acne.

3) Individuals  living  in  hot  and  humid  climates:  Fungal  acne  tends  to  be  more  prevalent  in  regions  with  warm  and  humid  weather.  The  increased  moisture  and  humidity  facilitate  the  growth  of  Malassezia  yeasts,  contributing  to  the  development  of  fungal  acne.

4) Individuals  with  compromised  immune  systems:  People  with  weakened  immune  systems,  such  as  those  with  HIV/AIDS,  undergoing  immunosuppressive  therapy,  or  organ  transplant  recipients,  have  a  higher  risk  of  developing  fungal  acne.  The  immune  system  plays  a  crucial  role  in  maintaining  the  balance  of  microorganisms  on  the  skin.

5) Individuals  who  frequently  wear  occlusive  clothing:  Tight-fitting  or  non-breathable  clothing  can  trap  moisture  and  heat  on  the  skin,  creating  an  environment  suitable  for  the  growth  of  Malassezia  yeasts  and  increasing  the  likelihood  of  fungal  acne.

Fungal  Acne  Causes

1) Malassezia  overgrowth: Fungal  acne  arises  primarily  due  to  an  overgrowth  of  Malassezia  yeasts,  particularly  Malassezia  furfur.  These  lipophilic  yeasts  naturally  inhabit  the  skin  and  thrive  in  areas  rich  in  sebaceous  glands,  such  as  the  face,  upper  trunk,  and  neck.

2) Sebum  production:  Excessive  sebum  production  provides  an  ideal  environment  for  Malassezia  yeasts  to  flourish.  The  yeasts  metabolise  the  triglycerides  present  in  sebum,  leading  to  the  release  of  fatty  acids.  This  triggers  an  inflammatory  response  within  the  hair  follicles.

3) Hot  and  humid  climates:  Fungal  acne  is  more  prevalent  in  warm  and  humid  environments.  Increased  moisture  levels  contribute  to  the  proliferation  of  Malassezia  yeasts  and  the  subsequent  development  of  acne-like  lesions.

4) Occlusive  clothing: Wearing  a  tight  or  non-breathable  dress  can  create  a  humid  microenvironment  on  the  skin,  promoting  the  growth  of  Malassezia  yeasts  and  exacerbating  fungal  acne.

5) Prolonged  use  of  topical  corticosteroids: The  application  of  corticosteroid-containing  creams  or  ointments  on  the  affected  areas  can  disrupt  the  balance  of  the  skin  microbiome  and  lead  to  the  overgrowth  of  Malassezia  yeasts,  triggering  fungal  acne.

6) Weakened  immune  system:  Individuals  with  compromised  immune  systems,  such  as  HIV/AIDS,  organ  transplant  recipients,  or  undergoing  immunosuppressive  therapy,  are  more  susceptible  to  developing  fungal  acne.

7) Certain  medications:  Oral  corticosteroids,  antibiotics,  or  immunosuppressants  can  disrupt  the  normal  flora  on  the  skin  and  increase  the  risk  of  fungal  acne.

It  is  important  to  note  that  fungal  acne  causes  may  interact  and  vary  among  individuals,  contributing  to  the  development  and  persistence  of  fungal  acne.

Also Read: Fight acne, pimples, and blackheads with Clinmiskin

Fungal  Acne  Symptoms

Fungal  acne  exhibits  distinct  symptoms  that  differentiate  it  from  traditional  bacterial  acne.  The  following  are  common  fungal  acne  symptoms:

  • Tiny,  round  pimples
  • Pinkish  or  reddish  pimples  with  a  whitehead
  • Swelling  and  redness  around  the  pimple
  • Irritation
  • Acne-like  breakouts
  • Occasional  tingling  and  stinging  sensation
  • Acne  in  groups

It  is  important  to  note  that  the  symptoms  of  fungal  acne  can  vary  among  individuals.  If  you  suspect  you  may  have  fungal  acne,  it  is  advisable  to  consult  a  dermatologist  for  a  proper  diagnosis  and  tailored  treatment  plan.  A  dermatologist  can  assess  your  symptoms,  conduct  a  physical  examination,  and  recommend  appropriate  management  strategies  to  alleviate  the  condition.

What's  The  Difference  Between  Fungal  Acne  And  Regular  Acne?

Distinguishing  between  fungal  and  regular  acne  is  crucial  for  accurate  diagnosis  and  appropriate  treatment.  The  key  differences  between  these  two  conditions:

Fungal  acne:

Fungal  acne,  also  known  as  pityrosporum  folliculitis  or  malassezia  folliculitis,  is  caused  by  an  overgrowth  of  Malassezia  yeasts,  primarily  Malassezia  furfur.  These  yeasts  naturally  inhabit  the  skin  and  thrive  in  areas  rich  in  sebaceous  glands.

Regular  Acne:

Acne  vulgaris  is  primarily  triggered  by  the  bacteria  Propionibacterium  acnes,  which  colonies  the  hair  follicles  and  sebaceous  glands.  Factors  like  excess  sebum  production,  hormonal  changes,  and  inflammation  contribute  to  the  development  of  regular  acne.

1) Lesion  Characteristics:

  • Fungal  Acne:  Fungal  acne  lesions  typically  manifest  as  small,  uniform  papules  or  pustules  on  the  skin.  These  lesions  are  often  similar  in  size  (1-2  millimeters)  and  lack  the  presence  of  blackheads  or  comedones.
  • Regular  Acne:  Regular  acne  lesions  include  blackheads  (open  comedones),  whiteheads  (closed  comedones),  papules,  pustules,  nodules,  and  cysts.  Blackheads  and  whiteheads  are  common  in  regular  acne,  along  with  inflammatory  lesions.

2) Itching  and  Discomfort:

  • Fungal  Acne:  Fungal  acne  lesions  are  often  associated  with  itching  or  pruritus,  which  may  lead  to  scratching  or  rubbing  the  affected  areas.
  • Regular  Acne:  Regular  acne  lesions  typically  do  not  cause  significant  itching  unless  there  is  concurrent  inflammation  or  infection.

3) Response  to  Treatment:

  • Fungal  Acne:  Fungal  acne  may  not  improve  with  traditional  acne  treatments,  such  as  benzoyl  peroxide  or  salicylic  acid-based  products.  Instead,  antifungal  medications  or  topical  antifungal  creams  are  usually  effective  in  resolving  fungal  acne.
  • Regular  Acne:  Regular  acne  responds  well  to  conventional  acne  treatments,  including  topical  therapies  (e.g.,  benzoyl  peroxide,  retinoids)  and  oral  medications  (e.g.,  antibiotics,  hormonal  therapies).

Understanding  these  differences  is  essential  to  guide  appropriate  management  strategies.  If  there  is  uncertainty  regarding  the  diagnosis,  consult  a  dermatologist  for  accurate  identification  and  personalised  treatment  of  the  specific  acne  type.

Also Read: Acne-Prone Skin: What is it, Causes, How To Take Care of It!

Fungal  Acne  On  Face

Having  flawless  and  healthy-looking  skin  is  something  many  of  us  strive  for.  Various  skin  conditions  can  disrupt  our  quest  for  the  perfect  complexion.  One  such  condition  is  fungal  acne  on  the  face,  a  pesky  and  misunderstood  problem  affecting  countless  individuals  worldwide.  If  you're  struggling  with  fungal  acne  on  your  face,  don't  worry  –  you're  not  alone.  Here  is  a  sneak  peek  at  your  worries-

  • Oral  antifungal  medication:  One  of  the  best  products  for  fungal  acne  on  the  face is  these  medications  that  kill  or  inhibit  the  growth  of  fungal  cells.  Azoles,  such  as  ketoconazole,  are  commonly  used.
  • Prescription  topical  antifungal  creams: If  over-the-counter  products  don't  work,  stronger  topical  medications  like  ketoconazole  2%  can  be  applied  twice  daily  for  2-3  weeks  to  reduce  yeast  overgrowth.
  • Diet  adjustments:  Avoid  yeast-promoting  foods  like  refined  sugar  and  white  flour,  while  incorporating  fruits,  vegetables,  grains,  and  lean  meats  can  improve  the  skin.
  • Antifungal  shampoo  or  body  wash: These  products  slow  down  fungal  growth.  opt  for  Selsun  Blue.
  • Oil-free  moisturiser:  These  moisturisers  hydrate  the  skin  without  adding  more  oil  that  can  clog  hair  follicles.

Also Read: Neem Benefits For Acne

Fungal  Acne  Forehead

Fungal  acne  forehead  is  a  skin  condition  caused  by  an  overgrowth  of  the  fungus  Malassezia.  The  yeast  forehead  bumps appear  as  small,  itchy  bumps  resembling  acne.  Factors  like  sweat,  oily  skin,  humidity,  and  certain  skincare  products  trigger  the  nodes.  Treatment  options  include  oral  antifungal  medications,  which  kill  or  inhibit  fungal  cells,  and  prescription  topical  antifungal  creams  like  ketoconazole.  Try  making  diet  adjustments  like  reducing  the  intake  of  yeast-promoting  foods.  Antifungal  shampoos  or  body  washes  can  slow  fungal  growth,  while  oil-free  moisturisers  can  hydrate  the  skin  without  adding  excess  oil.  Seeking  medical  advice  is  crucial  for  proper  diagnosis  and  treatment.

Fungal  Folliculitis

Fungal  folliculitis  is  a  skin  condition  characterised  by  inflammation  and  infection  of  hair  follicles  caused  by  fungal  organisms.  It  typically  appears  as  small,  red  bumps  or  pimples  with  surrounding  redness  and  tenderness.  The  leading  cause  is  the  overgrowth  of  fungi,  such  as  yeast,  on  the  skin.  Factors  like  hot  and  humid  environments,  excessive  sweating,  tight  clothing,  and  compromised  immune  systems  can  increase  the  risk.  Treatment  options  include  antifungal  creams,  oral  antifungal  medications,  and  proper  hygiene  practices.  Avoid  tight  dress,  keeping  the  affected  area  clean  and  dry,  and  using  antifungal  shampoos  can  help  prevent  recurrence.

How  is  fungal  acne  diagnosed?

Fungal  acne  is  diagnosed  through  a  visual  examination  and  medical  history.  A  dermatologist  may  take  a  skin  sample  or  perform  a  skin  scraping  to  confirm  the  presence  of  fungal  organisms  under  a  microscope.

How  is  fungal  acne  treated?

There  are  many ways  to  treat  fungal  acne.  The  options  include:

  • Antifungal  Topical  Medications: Over-the-counter  or  prescription  antifungal  creams,  lotions,  or  gels  containing  ingredients  like  ketoconazole  or  pyrithione  zinc  can  be  applied  directly  to  the  affected  areas.
  • Oral  Antifungal  Medications:  In  more  severe  cases,  healthcare  professionals  prescribe  oral  antifungal  medications  to  combat  the  fungal  overgrowth  from  within.
  • Adjusting  Skincare  Routine:  Avoid  using  comedogenic  products  and  opt  for  non-comedogenic,  oil-free  skincare  products  to  prevent  clogging  of  hair  follicles.
  • Maintaining  Good  Hygiene:  Keep  the  affected  area  clean  and  dry,  gently  cleanse  the  face  twice  daily,  and  avoid  excessive  scrubbing  or  harsh  exfoliation.
  • Use  Antifungal  Shampoos: Antifungal  shampoos  contain  ingredients  like  ketoconazole  or  selenium  sulphide.  They  reduce  fungal  overgrowth.
  • Lifestyle  Changes: Avoid  excessive  sweating,  wear  breathable  fabrics,  and  make  dietary  adjustments  to  reduce  yeast-promoting  foods  intakes  like  refined  sugars  and  white  flour.
  • Follow-up  Care: Stick  to  the  treatment  regimen  as  prescribed.  Follow  up  with  your  healthcare  provider  to  monitor  progress.

Also Read: What's The Difference Between Acne And Pimples?


How  Do  I  Get  Rid  Of  Fungal  Acne?

Consider  the  following  steps  to  get  rid  of  fungal  acne  effectively:

  • Use  topical  antifungal  treatments,  such  as  creams  or  gels  containing  ketoconazole  or  pyrithione  zinc.
  • Keep  the  affected  area  clean  and  dry;  avoid  using  comedogenic  products;  and  make  dietary  adjustments  to  reduce  yeast-promoting  foods.
  • Visit  your  dermatologist  for  personalised  suggestions  and  treatment.

How  Does  Fungal  Acne  Start?

Fungal  acne  starts  when  there  is  an  overgrowth  of  the  fungus  Malassezia on  the  skin.  This  overgrowth  is  triggered  by  excessive  moisture,  humidity,  oily  skin,  certain  skincare  products,  and  a  weakened  immune  system.  The  fungus  infects  the  hair  follicles,  leading  to  the  development  of  fungal  acne.

What  Kills  Fungal  Acne  Fast?

To  effectively  kill  fungal  acne  fast,  you  can  use  antifungal  treatments  such  as  topical  creams  containing  ingredients  like  ketoconazole  or  pyrithione  zinc.  Doctors  may  prescribe  Oral  antifungal  medications  for  severe  cases.  Consistent  use  of  these  treatments  and  good  hygiene  practices  can  help  quickly  eliminate  fungal  acne.

Is  Aloe  Vera  Good  For  Fungal  Acne?

Aloe  vera  can  help  alleviate  redness  and  irritation  associated  with  acne,  but  it  is  not  explicitly  designed  to  kill  the  fungus  causing  fungal  acne.  While  aloe  vera  has  soothing  and  anti-inflammatory  properties,  it  may  not  directly  treat  fungal  acne.  Antifungal  treatments  are  typically  more  effective  for  treating  this  condition.

How  Do  You  Permanently  Treat  Fungal  Infections?

Permanently  treating  fungal  infections  requires  a  comprehensive  approach.  Use  antifungal  medications,  both  topical  and  oral,  as  prescribed  by  a  healthcare  professional.  Practise  good  hygiene,  keep  the  affected  area  clean  and  dry,  avoid  sharing  personal  items,  wear  breathable  fabrics,  and  maintain  a  healthy  lifestyle.  Make  it  a  routine  to  do  a  follow-up  check  with  your  healthcare  provider.

Does  Salicylic  Acid  Help  Fungal  Acne?

Salicylic  acid  is  primarily  effective  against  acne  caused  by  bacteria  and  excess  oil  rather  than  fungal  acne.  While  it  may  help  with  exfoliation  and  unclogging  pores,  it  is  not  explicitly  designed  to  target  the  fungus-causing  fungal  acne.  Antifungal  treatments  are  generally  more  effective  for  treating  this  condition.

What  Triggers  Fungal  Acne  On  Face?

Fungal  acne  on  the  face  grows  by  factors  such  as  excessive  moisture,  humidity,  oily  skin,  wearing  occlusive  makeup  or  tight  clothing,  using  certain  skincare  products  that  promote  fungal  growth,  and  having  a  weakened  immune  system.