Fungal acne is not the same as common acne, and knowing the difference is what helps you effectively treat each condition.
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Fungal acne, also known as Pityrosporum folliculitis or Malassezia folliculitis, is a skin condition that occurs when your skin pores are infected with a fungus.
While often confused with acne vulgaris (or common acne), the two conditions have different causes and therefore require different treatment.
Therefore, it becomes important that you identify your type of acne and use condition-specific treatment. If you use acne vulgaris treatment for fungal acne, your condition could become even worse.
Here’s what you should know.
Common acne occurs when the hair follicles on your skin get clogged by dead skin cells, sebum (oil), or bacteria.
Fungal acne, however, is not caused by clogged pores, but by infection from a yeast known as Malassezia. As a result of this infection, your skin gets irritated and inflamed, leading to the appearance of tiny red bumps.
Conditions that can lead to the growth of acne-causing fungi include:
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), people might be more at risk of fungal acne if they:
Besides fungal acne, the yeast Malassezia is associated with a variety of other skin conditions, including dandruff and dermatitis.
Common symptoms of fungal acne include:
Fungal acne is also more common forearms, chest, and back. Other less common spots include the face, scalp, forearms, back of the hands, and lower legs.
It is essential that you consult a dermatologist or physician to diagnose your skin condition for proper treatment.
A dermatologist may ask the following questions before a physical examination:
This is followed by testing your skin cells for the type of infection, which can be done by:
Wood’s lamp test involves shining ultraviolet light of a specific wavelength on your skin and scalp. The light causes certain cells to appear fluorescent, helping in the identification of your condition. For example, the fungal infection caused by Malassezia will appear yellow-green fluorescent under the light.
It is tough to determine for sure how long your condition might last. In most cases of mild fungal acne, the red bumps clear up within a few weeks of appropriate treatment. In more severe cases, it may take anywhere from several weeks to a few months for your condition to improve or go away.
Fungal acne is typically treated by oral or topical medication or a combination of both. Topical anti-fungal creams and gels, such as ketoconazole, are often prescribed before your doctor decides to give you oral medication.
In case you’re experiencing a more serious infection, your doctor might prescribe you one of the following anti-fungal medications:
While anti-fungal medications are effective in killing fungi and preventing them from growing, they may cause some side effects, including:
Most of these reactions are mild and don’t last long. However, a person might experience a more severe reaction in some cases, such as:
In case you experience any of these, you should stop using the medication immediately and seek medical assistance.
Some other tips that help manage the condition include:
Fungal acne is especially common in hot, humid areas — but can typically be treated with specific anti-fungal medications and products, along with the maintenance of proper hygiene.