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What does fungal acne look like?

Fungal Acne

Pityrosporum folliculitis, also known as fungal acne, is an infection that affects the hair follicles of your skin. It looks like small pimples with little variation in size or shape, and itching is common. Skin irritation and whiteheads can be caused by fungus acne. Acne vulgaris is the type of acne most commonly associated with whiteheads and blackheads, so most people confuse it with fungus acne.

Fungal acne and acne vulgaris both are two distinct conditions affected by distinct factors. Therefore, they will not respond to the very same treatment. In addition, if you continue to use anti-acne treatments, you can make fungal acne much worse. As a result, it’s important to know what fungal acne looks like and how it develops. Keep reading to learn well about symptoms of fungal acne and its treatment and prevent breakouts. Summertime brings on a flare-up of fungus acne due to the heat, sweat, and humidity. It can also occur following treatment with steroids, prednisone, and antibiotics, as well as in conjunction with other systemic health issues such as diabetes. In addition, many acne treatments are antibacterial, which means they kill the normal skin bacteria on your skin, allowing yeast to multiply and cause fungal acne to flare.

What does fungal acne look like?

These breakouts appear small, uniform reddish bumps emerging from the hair follicles, generally in symmetric rows on the forehead, scattered on cheeks, and sometimes on the upper back and upper chest. It’s itchy, too. The irritation and uniform shape are what differentiate so-called “fungal acne” from bacteria-derived acne. Folliculitis can affect any skin type.

What does fungal acne look like?

The color of the bumps can vary from bright red to dark brown or purple, depending on the person’s skin tone, and some people are more prone to developing the condition than others. For example, if you sweat a lot, have oily skin, or live in a hot, humid climate, you’re more likely to get acne. Folliculitis can be caused by wearing tight clothing, thick skin creams or sunblocks, or taking certain medications. In addition, shaving, waxing, or plucking can irritate the hair follicles and increase the chance of the condition. Fungal acne varies from regular acne because you won’t see the blackheads, pustules, or even deeper cysts and nodules.

Causes of fungal acne

It’s caused by an excessive or overgrowth of yeast, a type of fungus. Yeast thrives in warm, humid environments. Your body can usually balance yeast, other fungi, and bacteria that live on your skin. However, an overgrowth can disrupt the natural balance. That’s when the infection of hair follicles establishes, and acne-like symptoms appear.

Symptoms of fungal acne

  • Itchiness
  • Same size
  • Clusters of small whiteheads
  • Often shows up on the arms, chest, and back
  • experience psoriasis and dandruff which are other yeast-realted conditions

Do I have fungal or regular acne?

Probably the most common symptom which you’ll observe is the itchiness of the bumps. Fungal acne is itchy but never painful, unlike common acne, which is painful when a blemish becomes inflamed. In a humid and hot climate, fungus acne can be persistent, get worse with sweat, and flare-up. Your dermatologist can diagnose the condition by the appearance of the acne: clinical symptoms and the absence of improvement with traditional acne medicinal drugs. Skin scraping for yeast can be carried out to confirm the medical diagnosis if required.


A dermatologist will ask you about your symptoms in order to determine whether they are a result of fungal acne or not.

This will likely include:

  • what you’ve used to deal with it
  • how long you’ve had the breakout
  • what symptoms you’re experiencing right now

The provider may also prefer to do one of the following in some cases:

They could do a simple, painless skin scraping and examine the scraping under a microscope to look for any yeast accountable for fungal acne.
They could take a skin sample, or biopsy is a very simple procedure performed in the workplace. Then, the sample is delivered to a lab where it could be tested to confirm the fungal acne diagnosis.


Remember, since this particular condition is actually due to the yeast Malassezia furfur, it won’t respond to the conventional antibacterial plus anti-inflammatory acne therapies. Therefore, antifungal and anti-yeast treatments are necessary. You can start by applying a topical antifungal cream to the affected areas daily. For a far more prolonged or considerable outbreak, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral antifungal medication. Maintenance treatment may be required because this condition can recur, especially when the environment is appropriate for the yeast to proliferate.

Body wash: You can use dandruff shampoos containing pyrithione zinc or body washes containing selenium sulfide. Though it can be effective, this is an off-label use of these shampoos. Rinse your skin many times a week with these dandruff shampoos while you’re having a breakout. You might consider using it weekly to help you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast on your skin. For best results, let the shampoo sit on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing.

Shower regularly: When you routinely work out or even have a job that causes you to sweat, try showering and changing clothes soon after the gym or work. This will help wash away unwanted yeast that may have started growing in the warm, moist environments that develop in sweaty clothing.

Loose clothing: If you wear tight clothes all the time, the friction and lack of airflow can encourage yeast growth on your skin. Instead, choose loose, breathable clothing more often to help your skin get proper circulation and promote balanced bacterial and fungal growth.

When should I see a doctor?

However, if you have attempted to cure your suspected fungal acne at home and the breakout persists for more than three weeks, call your dermatologist. Prescription antifungal medications may be more effective at eliminating the infection compared to topical treatments.

Of course, if the symptoms return shortly after you thought they were resolved, think about making another appointment with your dermatologist. You may be ready to find a treatment that’ll help prevent the recurrence and prevent potential long-term problems. You can also discuss preventive choices with your doctor.


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