Conditions Treated
Our Team
Patient Resources
Contact Us

What Is Fungal Acne?

Book An Appointment

What Is Fungal Acne?Have you noticed breakouts along your chest, upper arms, and legs that aren’t clearing up with your normal acne remedies? If you are noticing stubborn acne-like bumps that only leave you itchy after acne treatments, you may be dealing with fungal acne. Fungal acne can be a tricky condition to detect for the untrained eye, and as such we’ve decided to offer you advice on how to treat and stop fungal acne in its tracks.

What Is Fungal Acne?

You may be surprised, but fungal acne isn’t acne at all. Fungal acne is a common misnomer for a skin condition known as pityrosporum folliculitis, or Malassezia folliculitis, which is a yeast infection of the hair follicle.

Fungal acne is caused by the buildup and infection of hair follicles by the yeast Malassezia on your skin. Though bacteria, yeast, fungus live on our skin normally, typically our body does a good job of keeping the levels in balance. If an imbalance occurs, an overgrowth of fungus can occur leading to irritation, inflammation, and the infection of hair follicles. This fungal infection can result in acne-like symptoms, leading to the misnomer name: Fungal Acne.


An imbalance or overgrowth of fungus levels on your skin can occur for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • A humid, moist environment beneficial to yeast growth
  • Reusing fitness clothes without washing them
  • Tight clothing that prevents your skin from breathing
  • Wearing sweaty clothes too long after working out

Certain medications and medical conditions such as a weakened immune system and antibiotics can increase your risk of developing this condition.


One of the main reasons fungal acne can be so persistent is because it looks similar to regular acne and is unresponsive to acne treatment. Both appear as small bumps on the skin. So how do you tell the difference?

As mentioned above, fungal acne isn’t acne, so it doesn’t respond to acne medication or skincare regimens targeted at controlling breakouts. To tell the difference on your own, pay attention to the symptoms.

Fungal acne often appears in small uniform bumps in clusters on the chest, arms, back, and legs. Unlike regular acne, these bumps do not often have heads and can be extremely itchy.


Depending on the severity of the infection, you may be able to clear up your skin by adjusting certain lifestyle habits. Showering immediately and changing into clean clothes after working out or wearing loose fitness clothes can make a huge difference.

Mild cases may also be treated by using dandruff shampoo as an antifungal body wash. We recommend lathering your body and letting it sit for a few minutes before washing it off.

In severe cases, or if symptoms persist longer than three weeks, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. A quick exam and skin sample can tell your dermatologist all they need to know to offer you the right treatment option. Oral antifungal medication may be prescribed as they work faster than topical creams and can target deep into the hair follicle.

For more information on fungal acne or to schedule a consultation, contact Dermatology and Skin Health today.

Related Posts