Ask a Dermatologist: How to Identify and Treat Fungal Acne

Fungal acne international relations and security network ’ thyroxine hard to treat—once you know that ’ s what you ’ re dealing with. The challenge can be in the fact that fungal acne can look pretty much the same as regular acne. In short, the discipline we call fungal acne is the consequence of an giantism of yeast, “ otherwise known as pityrosporum folliculitis ( malassezia folliculitis ), ” according to board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach. In fact, to set the commemorate heterosexual : fungal acne is a total misnomer— ” it actually has nothing to do with fungus, nor is it actually acne—it ’ s a folliculitis, or infection of the bantam hair follicles on the face or torso, ” which leads to “ papules, small, raised, solid bumps resembling pimples, ” explains board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban.

We know how unmanageable it can be to identify and treat this type of acne, so we asked Rabach, Shamban, and board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner to break it all down for you. Below, discover what fungal acne looks like, what can cause it, and of course, fungal acne treatments to be aware of.

Meet the Expert

  • Ava Shamban, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles.
  • Morgan Rabach, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

What Is Fungal Acne ?

“ Fungal acne is normally papular acne ( loss bumps ), ” explains Rabach. One sign your acne is fungal and not of the acne coarseness kind ( which is what we typically think of as ‘ convention acne ’ ) is if it ’ s antsy. besides, if you spot whiteheads or blackheads that are roughly a millimeter big, chances are it could be fungal. This type of acne normally shows up on the chest, back, or upper arms, but can besides occur on the face, just like typical acne can, making it difficult to decipher which you ‘re experiencing .

Causes and Prevention of Fungal Acne

There are a few reasons you may be getting fungal acne, here ‘s what they are and how you can mitigate them .

  • Heat and humidity: Fungal acne is closely related to hotter climates. According to Zeichner, it’s relatively uncommon in the United States and is seen at much higher rates in areas of the world where the weather is always warm, such as the Philippines. This is because the yeast that causes fungal acne thrives in moist environments with excessive sweat and heat.
  • Sweat: You probably already know that it’s best to shower as soon as your exercise is over and that it’s not ideal to sit around in sweaty, clingy clothes (ahem, yoga pants), but this can do more than just make for an uncomfortable fit. To avoid sweat-induced fungal acne, Shamban advises to “Choose loose clothing with natural fabrics, avoid spandex, and change clothing often after exercise or excessive sweating. This can be helpful particularly in hot weather when it can flare up.”
  • Overuse of antibiotics: The yeasts on our skin are part of our microbiome, and they’re not a problem when they’re not in excess. However, “in certain circumstances—such as long-term use of topical and/or oral acne antibiotics—the normal skin flora is wiped out by the antibiotics, and so the yeast flourishes, causing inflammation and fungal acne,” Rabach explains. If you have acne that’s not responding to normal treatments and a history of regular antibiotic use, you may have found your culprit.
  • Contact with others: Fungal acne might be contagious (after all, yeast is known for spreading). If you’ve had bodily contact with someone who has fungal acne, it may be the cause of yours.


The adept news program is that once you ’ ve identify fungal acne, it ’ s not so intemperate to treat—especially, Shamban notes, because “ the campaign is one-dimensional. ” In fact, according to Zeichner, you can “ even try a few over-the-counter tricks before visiting your dermatologist. ”

Use an Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Nizoral Anti Dandruff Shampoo


Anti Dandruff Shampoo



Anti-dandruff shampoo contain an active component called zinc pyrithione, which is antifungal. needle to say, for fungal acne, these shampoos actually make a good bark cleansing agent ( for face or body—wherever the affect sphere is ). “ Apply, let it sit, and lather it up while you sing the alphabet before rinsing it off, ” Zeichner says. “ The shampoo needs enough liaison time on the skin for it to exert its consequence. ”

Apply an Athlete ’ s Foot Cream

Lotrimin AF Antifungal Cream

Lotrimin AF

Antifungal Cream



Another nontraditional discussion lies in athlete ’ s foot skim. “ Athlete ‘s foot is caused by a exchangeable fungus that causes fungal acne ” Zeichner explains. As such, nonprescription creams can be used. “ These contain a potent anti-fungal medication called clotrimazole, ” Zeichner notes. He recommends applying it twice daily to affected areas. But if these don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate work, or if your rash is not improving in a week or two, Zeichner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation .

Get a prescription for a topical

If your fungal acne is stubborn—as many cases can be—a prescription-strength discussion may be needed. Rabach notes that she ‘ll much prescribe “ an fungicidal cream, like Ketoconazole 2 %, doubly a day, for two to three weeks to help reduce the yeast on the skin, leading to a significant reduction in the lesions present. ”

Exfoliate Excess Dirt and Oil

Kopari Coconut Crush Scrub


Coconut Crush Scrub



We know that exfoliating can get rid of dead hide cells, but how does this fare with those prone to fungal acne ? Turns out dead skin cells, surfeit dirt, and anoint might all contribute to the increase of yeast growth. Use a consistency exfoliator regularly ( and specially post-workout ) to lessen the find of getting fungal acne .

Make Body Wipes a Gym Bag Staple

Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pads


Ultra Rapid Action Pads



A body wipe-down after a exercise session is both refreshing and helpful in fending off breakouts. Keep a hoard of consistency wipes in your gymnasium udder to encourage a accustomed routine of wiping away sweat and vegetable oil, at least until you can get to a shower. Salicylic acidic wipes, in finical, may help reduce the likely of clog pores and are ideal for acne-prone, sensible bark types .

Use an Oil-Free Moisturizer

Colleen Rothschild Sheer Renewal Cream

Colleen Rothschild

Sheer Renewal Cream


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When you have fungal acne, the last thing you ‘ll want to do is exacerbate it with what it loves most : oil. particularly if you ‘re treating it with a strong topical ( whether prescribed or not ), you ‘ll likely have bouts of sobriety and excitation, and will want to reach for a moisturizer. Opt for one that ‘s oil-free to try to keep fungal acne at bay .

Apply a topical Tea Tree petroleum

Maple Holistics 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil

Maple Holistics

100% Pure Tea Tree Oil


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Touted for its antiseptic, fungicidal properties, tea corner vegetable oil is an effective treatment for fungal acne. Dilute one to two drops of tea tree anoint with 12 drops of a carrier oil ( like olive oil ) and apply locally ( never orally ). Since some with sensible skin have experienced an allergic reaction to those with sensitive skin, it ‘s best to do a bandage test before applying the concoction all over the affected area .

Use a blemish serum

Tula Acne Clearing + Tone Correcting Gel


Acne Clearing + Tone Correcting Gel


shop class

If you ‘re sporting an acneic skin type, less is more when it comes to your skin care routine. A two-in-one serum that targets active breakouts and works to fade acne spots over time may have some serious benefits for both treating the fungal acne and ensuring it does n’t leave its decipher behind.

Try a Prescription Oral Medication

Though it ‘s rare, dermatologists sometimes call in an oral antifungal treatment like Fluconazole ( if you ’ ve always been prescribed medication for a vaginal yeast infection, this is likely what you took ). “ It works faster than the cream or shampoo, ” Rabach says, a pro for her New York City clientele who “ need results fast. ”

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