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How to know if you have fungal acne and how to Treat it

What is Fungal Acne?

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You know those icky small acne who won’t budge even after using all your anti-acne products? Those aren’t your typical bacterial acne and hence your anti-acne skincare can’t help you there. To understand this type of acne further, let’s know a bit about skin. The skin has a healthy barrier where a certain amount of yeast (a type of fungus) is present naturally. However, when the skin is exposed to trapped moisture and hot temperature along with dead skin, the growth of yeast really flares up. This infects the skin’s hair follicles and leads to fungal acne which is also called pityrosporum folliculitis or Malassezia folliculitis. 

What are the Causes of Disruption of Healthy Fungi?

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1. Weather Fungi

Weather Fungi grows in a hot and moist environment since that kind of environment leads to sweating.

2. Tight clothes

Tight clothes Certain non-breathable clothing gives no space to the skin to breathe. This may lead to trapping moisture and sweat which becomes a healthy bed for fungi to grow on.

3. Cleanliness

Cleanliness If the skin isn’t cleaned frequently, that can accumulate dead skin, dirt which becomes food for fungi when mixed with moisture and sweat. It is necessary to scrub off the dead skin before it accumulates. Use gentle scrubs like Bliscent’s Strawberry and Shea Butter Body Polish.

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Medication Our skin has a perfect balance of bacteria and fungi that makes for a healthy barrier of the skin. In case of antibiotics intake, bacteria is wiped out which leads to overgrowth of fungi.

Suppressed immunity Immunity does a fine job of avoiding the smallest inconvenience the body could suffer. When the healthy levels of immunity falls, it invites all kinds of troubles including fungal acne. 

How to know if it is surely fungal acne?

At times, they could be confused as whiteheads or blackheads or bacterial acne. Unlike the other types of acne, fungal acne is extremely itchy. Fungal infection irritates the skin and hence, the skin near the fungal acne clusters turns red.  It could be hard at times to label it as fungal acne for sure. In that case, it is best to visit a dermatologist who will examine under the microscope to give you the final verdict. 

What’s the difference between bacterial acne and fungal acne?

1. Size

 Fungal acne looks like a zit with the same size as that of a sand particle, whereas bacterial acne is bigger in size.

2. Itchiness

Fungal acne is very itchy and can irritate the skin to the extent that it will go red. Bacterial acne is not as itchy but is a pustule.

3. Cluster

Fungal acne is found in clusters since yeast can easily spread in the surrounding skin. However, bacterial acne can be found singular or in clusters.
Unresponsiveness to conventional skincare. Fungal acne won’t respond to anti-acne skincare products since it is a fungal infection. If it is bacterial acne then you may see certain products helping you clear out your acne. If you’re unsure about the effectiveness of a product, it is best to consult a dermatologist.

4. Location

Fungal acne breakouts seldomly occur on the face. They are usually found on arms, chest, or back where there is less space for skin to breathe due to tight clothes and friction.

The Do’s and Don’ts for Fungal Acne


1. Make sure to wear breezy clothes in summers since the fungi thrive in hot and moist environments.

2. Shower right after working out. The more those sweaty clothes stick to your skin, the more growth of fungus on your skin. We’d recommend Neemli’s Activated Charcoal Detox Bathing Bar or a Tea Tree oil-based body wash like Faith in Nature’s Tea Tree Body Wash

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3. Wash your gym wear before wearing it again because the dirt adds to the growth of fungal acne.

4. Switch to anti-dandruff shampoo every once in a while to avoid fungal acne. Our pick is Faith in Nature’s Tea tree Shampoo and Conditioner.

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5. Use products that contain Honey, Salicylic Acid, Tea Tree Oil, or Apple Cider Vinegar. A fash wash like Neemli’s Tea Tree and Salicylic Face Wash works best!
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6. If you sweat out every day, ensure that you exfoliate your body frequently so that there is no build-up of oil and sweat. Fungal acne loves oil and dead skin!
Incorporate anti-fungal OTC products easily available in the market. Before buying them, look out for ingredients like Ketoconazole, Butenafine, or Clotrimazole in the product.

7. Opt for a balanced diet. Include probiotics that could help you with the digestive system. Healthy gut, healthy skin!

8. You can also use topical essential oils such as Tea Tree Oil, which can be diluted with a Hemp Seed Oil (carrier oil). However, before using this, it is best to do a patch test.

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1. Don’t try to use conventional anti-acne products if it is fungal acne. It will only worsen the situation.

2. Don’t use products that contain Benzoyl Peroxide or fatty acids since they serve as a catalyst for the growth of fungal acne.

3. Avoid high intake of sugar or carbohydrates which can prove to be food for the fungus.

4. Don’t wear tight clothes for a long time, especially in humid environments.

5. Don’t use harsh scrubs or DIY scrubs that have sugar, coffee, etc that could inflame the skin further. Use gentle cleansers like this one- Swisse’s Manuka Honey Daily Glow Cleanser.

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    When must you Consult a Dermatologist?

    Use the above mentioned tips to treat the fungal acne for 2-3 weeks. If it still persists and you see no improvement then it is best to pay a visit to your dermatologist. If the topical treatments have failed, antifungal medication is most likely to show results.

    In case if it is treated but recurs frequently, then you should discuss a long-term solution with your dermatologist. 

    Final Thoughts

    The root cause for most types of acne are different than that of fungal acne. Most of the acne is caused due to bacterial growth which is not the case in fungal acne. They are not easy to spot, and hence it may require you to visit a dermatologist who can then test the skip under a microscope to diagnose.

    To prevent yourself from fungal acne, you must ensure that there are no remains of dead skin due to lack of cleanliness or trapped moisture due to skin-tight clothes.

    -Divya Salvi

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