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What is Fungal Acne, Know its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Fungal Acne?

Fungal acne is the infection of the follicles due to the overgrowth of yeast. It looks like a pimple as it is similar in shape, and size, and also has itching. It may also cause skin irritation and a white head. Fungal acne is often confused with acne vulgaris, whereas they are two different conditions with different causes and treatments. Fungal acne can also be prevented and treated.(1)

Causes of Fungal Acne

Fungal acne is not caused by clogging of pores by sebum or bacteria, but they do play a part in their occurrence.

The irritated skin of fungal acne is caused by the overgrowth of yeast, a type of fungus that is also known as pityrosporum folliculitis.

The yeast causing fungal acne is always present on the skin. The body is able to balance the yeast, fungi, and bacteria. When the natural balance gets upset, overgrowth occurs. This leads to infection of the hair follicle and leads to acne-like symptoms.

There are several conditions that may be responsible for causing this imbalance. These include:

  • Trapped Moisture: Sweaty clothes can encourage the growth of fungus. Rewearing these clothes may expose the skin to the fungi already grown in the clothes.
  • Medication: Taking antibiotics reduces the bacteria on the skin and increases the chances of growth of fungi. Oral contraceptives increase the level of estrogen in the body and affect the production of skin oil and increase the susceptibility to yeast growth.(1)
  • Suppressed Immune System: Those with a compromised immune system are more at risk of developing fungal acne.
  • Diet Changes: Increased intake of sweets may increase the growth of fungus as they feed on carbohydrates.
  • Wearing Tight Clothing: Non-breathable clothes may increase the risk of moisture and sweat, making the growth of fungus on the skin more likely.
  • Warm and Moist Environment: Living in a moist environment may make people sweat more and increase the chances of fungal acne.(2)

It is observed that men are more susceptible to fungal acne than women.(1)

Symptoms of Fungal Acne

Fungal acne looks similar to acne vulgaris and bacterial acne. Not knowing the difference, people may treat them with the normal acne routine. As the treatment may not work for fungal acne, the treatment may last longer.

Fungal acne is different from bacterial acne in the following ways:

  • Size: Fungal acne are pus-filled bumps that are nearly the same in size. Bacterial acne can be of varied sizes.
  • Location: Fungal acne mostly show-up on the arm, chest, and back. They can also occurs on the face. Bacterial acne occur mostly on the face.
  • Itching: Fungal acne lead to itching while bacterial acne does not cause any itching.
  • Clusters: Fungal acne occur in clusters while bacterial acne are more sparse.

As fungal acne occur due to yeast growth, there may be other yeast-related conditions including psoriasis and dandruff.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Fungal Acne

  • Those with symptoms of fungal acne should see a dermatologist, who may confirm the duration and treatment taken for the condition.
  • Sometimes, skin scraping is taken to view under a microscope or biposy or skin sample is taken to be tested in the laboratory.
  • Mostly fungal acne are improperly treated as people start taking a similar treatment as that for bacterial acne.

Restoration of balance between the yeast and skin bacteria is important. Several treatment options for fungal acne include:

Showering Regularly

Those working out regularly should make sure they change their clothes post-gym and do not wear them again without washing. This helps wash away the excess yeast that might have developed in a warm, moist, and sweaty environment.

Wear Loose Clothing

Wearing tight clothing lessens airflow and encourages the growth of yeast on the skin. Instead, the loose breathable fabric should be worn to maintain proper circulation and encourage balanced bacterial and fungal growth.

Over-The-Counter Antifungal Treatment

There are various antifungal creams and ointments that can be helpful in treating skin conditions related to fungus growth.

If all the possible home treatments have been carried out and the fungal acne still persists or the symptoms return shortly after being resolved, it is important to consult a dermatologist.

Fungal acne is an infection of the hair follicle occurring due to the overgrowth of yeast. Anti-acne treatments do not work for fungal acne. Instead, it is important to identify the type of acne and treat it accordingly.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 26, 2022

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