What the Heck Is Fungal Acne & Do I Have It?

What the Heck Is Fungal Acne & Do I Have It?

I was browsing the skincareaddiction subreddit on Reddit (as one does … all the time) when I came across multiple threads talking about fungal acne. Fungal acne!?! Now, I’ve been in the beauty game for close to a decade now, and I’d never heard of fungal acne. And then after that, I started seeing posts about it everywhere (isn’t it weird how that happens?). TBH, it sounds absolutely terrifying and something I’d never want to get in a million years.

But is it scary? How easy is it to treat? Well, guess what? I did the heavy lifting for you and found out all the tea, so allow me to explain.


What Is Fungal Acne?

Well, color me surprised when I found out that fungal acne is actually not fungus … or acne. It’s actually a skin condition that is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that causes folliculitis. Folliculitis is an infection of your hair follicles, which causes fungal acne’s signature raised, pimple-like bumps that seem to never go away.

Fungal acne is a skin condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast that causes folliculitis, resulting in raised, pimple-like bumps that never seem to go away.

Fungal acne is typically found on the body, namely the back, chest, and arms, but it also can present itself on your face. The yeast that causes the condition, called malassezia, already lives rent-free on our skin, but it is known to increase production in warm, humid environments or whenever we are hot and sweaty. Usually our body is really efficient at keeping malassezia in check, but sometimes things go haywire and it starts growing out of control, and that’s where we get fungal acne.

Wearing sweaty clothes for too long, not showering after a workout, or not showering after a hot, sweaty day during the summer can all cause an overgrowth of yeast. You can also get it after overusing antibiotics, wearing super tight clothes, or a diet that’s super high in sugar and carbohydrates.

workout skin care


How Can I Tell the Difference Between Acne and Fungal Acne?

Fungal acne looks like small, red bumps that are mostly all the same size, whereas regular acne tends to have different sized whiteheads and pimples. But the biggest difference between acne and fungal acne is that the latter will usually be itchy, whereas we know that regular acne isn’t itchy at all. Also, fungal acne usually appears in small clusters, instead of a random smattering all over like regular acne.


How Can I Treat It?

Well, the good news is, once you’ve determined that you have fungal acne, it’s pretty simple to treat. And don’t pull out those BHAs and AHAs—these treatments will not work. Instead, head to your local drugstore and pick up a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo like Selsun Blue or Nizoral. It contains fungus-fighting ingredients that’ll help your body get the proper balance of fungus and bacteria in your skin. Lather it up and let it sit on your skin for a minute (or just sing the ABCs slowly), and rinse off.

fungal acne

Another over-the-counter treatment is an athlete’s foot cream like Lotrimin. Apply it twice a day on clean skin. If you still aren’t seeing relief or any changes after a week or two after using these OTC remedies, it’s time to make an appointment to see a dermatologist for prescription strength options.


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