Fungal Acne Treatment Tips You Need to Know

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Thursday July 4, 2024

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Fungal acne, often mistaken for regular acne, is caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. It appears as small, itchy bumps, often on the chest, back and shoulders. Proper treatment is crucial because using the wrong products can worsen the condition.

Treating fungal acne with targeted antifungal products and adjusting your skincare routine helps clear your skin and prevent future breakouts. Knowing what you’re dealing with and how to treat it can make all the difference in achieving healthy, clear skin.

What Is Fungal Acne?

Fungal acne, or Malassezia folliculitis, is a skin condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast in your hair. It can lead to small, itchy, uniform bumps, often mistaken for regular acne. You might notice these lumps on your chest, back and shoulders. Common symptoms include persistent itchiness and clusters of tiny, uniform pimples.

Several factors can contribute to fungal acne, including excessive sweating, humid environments and wearing tight, non-breathable clothing. It can also result from shaving, plucking or waxing hair, which disrupts the skin barrier.


Identifying fungal acne involves looking for small, uniform, itchy bumps often appearing in clusters. A crucial difference between fungal and bacterial acne is the cause: fungal acne is caused by Malassezia yeast. Meanwhile, bacterial acne results from bacteria, dead skin and oil clogging your pores.

Fungal acne typically feels itchier than bacterial acne and doesn’t respond to tractional acne treatments. If you’ve tried over-the-counter treatments without success, or if the condition worsens, it’s essential to seek professional advice. A dermatologist can diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate antifungal treatments to clear your skin effectively.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Over-the-counter treatments can be highly effective in managing and reducing symptoms of fungal acne. Knowing which products to use and how to apply them properly is essential to achieving clear, healthy skin.

Antifungal Creams and Ointments

To treat fungal ace, look for over-the-counter creams with active ingredients like ketoconazole or clotrimazole. These antifungal agents work by targeting the yeast, causing the infection. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you can apply these creams once or twice daily. 

To use them, clean the affected area with a gentle cleanser, pat it dry and then apply a thin layer of the cream. Consistent application helps to clear up the infection and prevent it from returning.

Antifungal Shampoos

When choosing antifungal shampoos for fungal acne, look for ingredients like ketoconazole, selenium sulfide or pyrithione zinc. These ingredients help reduce the yeast causing the infection. 

You can apply the shampoo to the affected areas, lather it up and let it sit on your skin for about 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Use the shampoo twice or thrice a week as part of your skincare routine, and follow up with a gentle moisturizer to keep your skin balanced and hydrated.

Prescription Treatments

If over-the-counter treatments aren’t enough to clear your fungal acne, prescription treatments might be necessary. A dermatologist can provide stronger medications to target and eliminate the infection.

Oral Antifungal Medications

For persistent fungal acne, dermatologists often prescribe stronger antifungal medications. The four main types of antifungal drugs are polyenes, azoles, allylamines and echinocandins. Commonly prescribed drugs include fluconazole (an azole) and terbinafine (an allylamine). These medications target the cell membranes of the yeast, killing the infection.

However, they can have side effects like liver damage, gastrointestinal issues and allergic reactions, so it’s essential to take them as prescribed. Always follow your dermatologist’s instructions and attend follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and adjust treatment if necessary.

Topical Antifungal Prescriptions

You should consider prescription options for fungal acne when over-the-counter treatments fail to show improvement after several weeks or if your symptoms are severe and widespread. Persistent itching, extensive areas of infection or a lack of response to topical antifungals are clear signs that you might need more potent medication.

Consulting a dermatologist will help you get a proper diagnosis and access to prescription treatments that can target the root cause of your condition. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your fungal acne isn’t improving with standard therapies.

Home Remedies and Natural Treatments

In addition to over-the-counter and prescription treatments, home remedies and natural treatments can relieve fungal acne. These alternatives often use readily available ingredients to help soothe skin and reduce symptoms.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a popular natural remedy for fungal acne due to its potent antimicrobial properties. It kills the yeast causing the infection and doesn’t leave a greasy residue on the skin. To use tea tree oil, dilute a few drops in a carrier oil — such as coconut or jojoba oil — to avoid irritation. Apply the mixture to the affected areas once or twice daily after cleansing your skin. Consistent use can help reduce the infection and soothe any associated itchiness.

Honey and Yogurt Masks

Honey and yogurt masks are excellent natural treatments for fungal acne due to their antimicrobial and soothing properties. Honey is a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, while yogurt’s probiotics help restore your skin’s natural balance. 

Mix honey and plain yogurt to make a mask, then apply a thin layer to the affected areas. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Use this mask two or three times a week to help reduce fungal acne and promote healthier skin.

Other Natural Antifungals

Onion and garlic are potent natural remedies for fungal acne due to their strong antifungal properties. Garlic, in particular, contains allicin, a compound that prevents fungal growth. To use these ingredients, crush a few garlic cloves or blend some onion to release their beneficial compounds.

Apply crushed garlic or onion juice directly to the affected areas. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with warm water and repeat this treatment once or twice daily. These natural options can help combat fungal acne and support overall skin health.

Keeping Your Skin at its Best

If your condition persists despite trying various treatments, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. Managing and preventing fungal acne involves a consistent skincare routine, using the right products and staying informed about what works best for your skin.

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