If you have noticed that you have a cluster of whiteheads or bumps on your back, check, neck, or shoulders, it might not be a regular acne breakout. It could be fungal acne, which is actually a type of yeast infection that resembles acne. Without proper treatment, fungal acne can cause discomfort in the affected area, as well as longer-lasting effects such as dark spots and uneven skin tone. The right diagnosis of fungal acne is the key to receiving the best treatment.
What is Fungal Acne?
While fungal acne appears similar to regular acne, fungal acne is different because it is caused by a yeast infection, and therefore requires other treatment. Fungal acne looks like small clusters of whiteheads that are uniform in size. Although it can look like acne, it is not caused by clogged pores like regular acne. It is an infection of the hair follicles, leading to red and itchy skin. The fungus feeds off the oil on the skin and inside the pores, causing it to spread.
Fungal acne is an overgrowth of yeast. This makes it different from other types of acne, which are caused by bacteria. The overgrowth of yeast leads to small infections, and they become irritated, red, and inflamed. The yeast can form because the skin has not been properly cleaned, especially after sweating, as well as with immune-related reasons, after taking antibiotics, or for genetic reasons. Unlike other forms of acne, fungal acne can be contagious as the yeast can spread. This is not the case with other types of acne.
Causes of Fungal Acne
There are several reasons why fungal acne forms, and could be the result of a combinations of factors:
Humidity: Those that live in a humid, warm climate are more apt to get fungal acne. If you live in this type of climate, shower immediately after sweating to prevent the yeast from thriving.
Antibiotics: Long-term use of antibiotics can make fungal acne worse. Because antibiotics cannot tell the difference between good and bad bacteria, the use of antibiotics kills all bacteria, which creates dysbiosis, and the fungi on the skin flourishes.
Skincare Products with Oil: Skincare or makeup that contains certain kinds of fatty acid or oils can cause fungal acne breakouts.
Inflammation: Immune system conditions that require medication can cause an increase in yeast. A suppressed immune system that does not regulate properly allows yeast to prosper.
Immuno-Compromised: Those with conditions such as HIV, diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease or with other disorders may be at a higher risk for this skin condition.
Symptoms of Fungal Acne
When acne appears, many patients believe it is regular acne caused by pores that are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. However, it is important to differentiate between the two skin conditions because they need to be treated differently. Here are some things to look for:
- Small breakouts on the skin, in the form of tiny whiteheads.
- Pimples of the same size often in clusters in one specific area.
- Fungal acne does not come to a head like other pimples.
- Red inflammation can develop.
- The skin can become itchy.
- Symptoms worsen with sweating.
Fungal Acne Treatment
Figuring out exactly how to best treat fungal acne can be difficult. You can do the following to help treat fungal acne and keep it from getting worse:
- Clean Your Skin. One of the best ways to keep your skin clear is to clean and moisturize it so there is not an overproduction of oil. A topical sulfur cleanser that has antifungal and antibacterial properties can help keep the yeast under control. A skincare product with exfoliating properties will remove dead skin cells and keep pores from getting blocked.
- Apply Antifungal Cream. Topical antifungal creams contain ingredients with oregano oil and tea tree oil which have antibacterial properties that help kill fungus and harmful bacteria.
- Exercising is a natural way to boost blood flow to clean out pores. The most important part is to make sure to clean your skin immediately after sweating. Clothes that let the skin breathe will keep microbes from getting trapped in the pores.
- Apply a Warm Compress. A warm compress placed on the affected area for 15-20 minutes, three or four times a day can help alleviate symptoms.
If home treatments are not working, a medical professional can best determine the type of breakout and make a recommendation on for skin care treatment. There are several treatments available for fungal acne. Most fungal acne responds well to Ketoconazole, which a topical anti-fungal treatment. Benzoyl Peroxide has an antimicrobial ingredient to fight acne bacteria and yeast. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and can dissolve fungi that accumulate inside of clogged pores. Tree tee oil is another ingredient that is effective in inhibiting the growth of fungi.
How Long Does It Take for Fungal Acne to Go Away?
Fungal acne should go away after about two to three weeks, however, if symptoms continue for more than a month, you may need a stronger prescription. The amount of time it takes to cure it depends on how severe the outbreak is. Fungal infections can spread and cause scarring, dark spots, and hair loss so it is very important to take the full course of the prescribed treatment. If you do find that you have leftover dark spots from fungal acne, a chemical peelcan help lessen their appearance.
Treat Your Fungal Acne
The correct diagnosis of fungal acne is important in order to cure it. Conventional acne treatments do not work on fungal acne and can actually make it worse. If you are suffering from fungal acne, BB Aesthetic can provide you with treatments that will unclog your pores and keep your face clear. We can advise you on the best products to keep your skin clean and clear. Our skin care experts can give you an accurate diagnosis and tell you how to best treat your skin.