Fungal acne

What is fungal acne?
Itchy red bumps on the chest and back, caused by a yeast infection of hair follicles

What makes people prone to getting fungal acne?
Humid climates
A tendency towards oily skin and sweatiness
The use of occlusive skincare products

What treatments are available for fungal acne?
Avoid occlusive products, and shower immediately if you get sweaty
Anti-yeast creams and shampoos
Sometimes, oral anti-fungal tablets or isotretinoin is required

Fungal acne has received a lot of attention lately, although it isn’t as common as people think. So what exactly is it, and how do you know if you have it? Read on to learn more. 

What is fungal acne?

Fungal acne is a term sometimes used to describe a condition technically known as pityrosporum folliculitis. This is not actually a form of acne, rather it’s an infection of the hair follicles by a yeast that naturally lives on the skin, called Malassezia. It presents as itchy red bumps and pustules (pimples containing pus), typically on the chest and back. 

Who gets fungal acne? 

Fungal acne can occur in anyone, but is more common in younger people, humid climates, and those who tend to have oily skin or sweat excessively. It can develop after the use of thick, occlusive creams and sunscreens

Is fungal acne contagious?

Fungal acne is generally not considered to be contagious. 

How do I know if I have fungal acne or regular acne?

Fungal acne tends to occur on the chest and back, and is less common on the face, whereas acne is common on the face, chest and back. Fungal acne is often itchy, unlike acne. In addition, in fungal acne, comedones and cysts seen in acne don’t occur, and the bumps all tend to be small and of a similar size. 

How can fungal acne be treated? 

Treatment involves avoiding triggers such as the use of occlusive products, and showering straight after any activity which causes you to sweat a lot. Topical anti-yeast products such as ketoconazole cream or ketoconazole or selenium sulfide shampoo used as a body wash can be helpful. In severe cases, oral antifungal medication may be required, or sometimes isotretinoin. Fungal acne can be recurrent, in which case ongoing, preventative treatment may be required.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…