Fungal acne is caused by an infection in the hair follicle. Also known as Pityrosporum folliculitis or Malassezia folliculitis, this form of acne is often itchy, inflamed and is a result of a yeast infection. Your skin always has a certain amount of yeast, which when imbalanced, leads to pus-filled bumps that are quite messy to look at. Given that fungal acne is an infection, it can be contagious and may spread to other parts of your skin. They show up as consistently sized papules and pustules and are commonly found on the chest and back, but can happen on your face as well. One of the best ways to deal with other, more severe forms of acne is through an expert, but fungal acne treatment at home is possible with changes in lifestyle and enriching your skincare routine with the right products.
Even though pore-clogging and excessive sebum do play a big part in triggering fungal acne, oil-control and drying routines may not be the remedy for it. This is why treatment options for other forms of acne may not work on blemishes caused by a fungal infection. Triggered by sweating, humidity, bad workout hygiene, occlusive clothing and use of certain antibiotics, it is important to identify fungal acne before treating it.
- How to identify fungal acne
- Tea tree oil for fungal acne
- Anti-dandruff shampoo for fungal acne
- Azelaic acid for fungal acne
- Sulphur for fungal acne
- Salicylic acid for fungal acne
- FAQs about fungal acne treatment
How to identify fungal acne
Fungal acne is often given the wrong treatment at home because it can look like your average, inflamed and oil-clogged acne. However, if you look closely, fungal acne can be spotted in the form of small whiteheads which are roughly the size of a pinpoint. It also mostly occurs on the chest, shoulders, and side of the arms and back; where you might have sweat or dirt accumulated and trapped by your clothing. Also, unlike oily pimples or blemishes, fungal acne can be itchy and irritating, often tuning your skin red. Primarily popping up as small whiteheads in clusters, fungal acne can grow in size and become pus-filled if not treated properly.
Tea tree oil for fungal acne
One of the best ingredients you can invest in to treat fungal acne at home is tea tree oil. Sourced from the melaleuca alternifolia plant, this nutrient-rich oil is antiseptic and anti-fungal in nature. The compounds present in it are known to kill Malassezia infecting the skin, while being very gentle at the same time.
How to use -
The best way to use tea tree oil for your fungal acne treatment is to dilute it with a carrier oil (like olive or jojoba oil). All you need is 1-2 drops of tea tree oil mixed with 10-12 drops of carrier oil and a clean applicator like reusable cotton pads. Dab on the mix lightly on the affected area and wait for it to dry. You can also use it as a spot treatment with the help of Q-tips. If you have excessively dry and sensitive skin, make sure to do a patch test on your arm before applying it anywhere on your body.
Anti-dandruff shampoo for fungal acne
A simple hack that many dermatologists recommend for fungal acne on the back and chest is an anti-dandruff shampoo! These scalp treatment formulations contain active ingredients like zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole and selenium, which are known to be antifungal in nature. The lathering nature of these shampoos also make them a good body cleanser if your skin is prone to get affected by fungal infections a lot.
How to use -
The anti-dandruff shampoo needs to sit on the affected area for about 5 minutes for it to work. Take a coin-sized amount on your palm, lather with water and apply on the infected area. Wash with normal water and dab with a clean cloth to dry. Follow up with a gentle, non-fragranced and non-comedogenic body lotion to counter any kind of dryness caused by the shampoo.
Azelaic acid for fungal acne
Azelaic acid is a by-product of Malassezia itself, making it one of the most effective treatments to help get rid of it as well. It does so by regulating the fatty acid content of your skin. The ideal environment for yeast to thrive on is a moist surface which is rich in fatty acids and oils. Thus, by reducing the fatty acids, the yeast population on your skin can be regulated as well. And given that azelaic acid is gentle and safe for most skin types, it can be used as a long-term solution to keep your skin health in check.
How to use -
The best way to use azelaic acid is in the form of a serum, preferably a single-use formulation or something with a high azelaic acid content in it. Make sure to be consistent with it and apply a moisturiser on the area to lock the treatment in.
Sulphur for fungal acne
The use of sulphur in skincare has seen a spike in popularity in recent years. This is because this earth mineral is easily available and has shown extreme promise in the treatment of dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. In the case of fungal acne, sulphur can help by exfoliating dead skin cells and regulating sebum production as it is rich in compounds that are toxic to fungi.
How to use -
Sulphur is considered a gentle ingredient and can be used in the form of foaming cleansers. Sulphur infused scrubs and soaps can be used on fungal acne-affected areas once a day; do make sure to follow up with a moisturiser as sulphur can be quite drying to your skin.
Salicylic acid for fungal acne
Salicylic acid is yet another effective ingredient to use for fungal acne. The ingredient is known for its exfoliating properties and unclogging of pores. This can help keep your fungal-acne-prone skin protected from yeast growth and also get rid of patchiness and dullness that might come with it.
How to use -
There are many ways to use salicylic acid for fungal acne - you can use SA-infused body washes and gel cleansers, spot-treat affected areas or even use your SA serum to treat your skin overnight while you sleep. Salicylic acid can also be drying in nature, so make sure to use a hydrating body lotion to keep dehydrated skin issues at bay.
FAQs about fungal acne treatment
Q. Can you use honey for fungal acne treatment at home?
A. Yes, honey has antimicrobial qualities, while also being intensely moisturising to the skin. As such, it can be used to treat fungal acne at home. Use raw honey to layer infected areas of the skin, keep for about 25-30 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. Do this once a day for best results.
Q. What are some lifestyle changes that help avoid fungal acne?
A. It is important to maintain daily body hygiene to keep fungal acne at bay - shower twice a day during hot and humid weather to avoid buildup of fungi on your skin. Opt for looser-fitting clothes that are made with natural fabrics to let your skin breathe. Also, make sure to change out of sweaty clothes after workouts and shower as soon as possible. Steer clear of processed foods and sugars as they can make the yeast content in your system grow.
Q. Can apple cider vinegar treat fungal acne?
A. While apple cider vinegar consists of antimicrobial properties and can work on fungal dandruff, its effects on fungal acne might be next to nothing. This is because of the fact that ACV needs to be diluted to an extreme level to be used on skin, or else it can irritate it.
Written by Sumona Bose on Aug 30, 2021
Sumona Bose is a writer, skincare junkie and a self-professed makeup connoisseur. Equipped with a Master's degree in Fashion Management and over 3 years of experience writing in the beauty and fashion space, her passion for learning new things has no bounds. Working closely with dermatologists, beauty excerpts, makeup artists and hairstylists, she brings you the best of all things beauty. From trending skincare ingredients to makeup looks that help you slay, she manages to bring something new (and vital!) to our readers every single time. Her hobbies include home workouts, watching foreign films and binge-watching makeover shows!