Fungal acne: facts vs. fiction

This itchy situation isn’t fun, guys — it might be fungi

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Curology Team
Mar 02, 2020 · 3 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

When it comes to acne on your face, you’ve probably heard of hormonal or bacterial acne — but acne caused by fungus is a different beast. So what is fungal acne, anyway, and how do you get rid of it? Here’s how to tell if you might have fungal acne and how to treat it.

What does fungal acne look like?

If you have small, uniform pimples — especially on the forehead, jaw, chest, or back — you just might have fungal acne. They usually look like little bumps, and they are more common along the hairline.

Symptoms of fungal acne

  • Itchy acne with tiny pinkish bumps

  • Small, uniform bumps that may spread across a central area

  • Dandruff — not everyone who has fungal acne gets it, but the same fungus can be a contributing factor!

What causes fungal acne?

A fungal breakout is often caused by pityrosporum, a naturally occurring type of fungus that lives on our skin. The yeast of the fungus can grow in pores in moist environments — you might accidentally nurture your fungi by exposing your skin to sweat and friction, pore-clogging ingredients, or a humid climate.

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Fungal acne treatment

Here’s how to swipe left on this breakout.

Do laundry. From your bedsheets to your undies, the first step to evicting fungal acne is to prevent the environment that makes them thrive. Sweat and product residue can build up on clothes — and bedclothes! — which helps fungus incubate.

Rinse off. Any time you break a serious sweat — like after a workout — take a quick shower and pat yourself dry with a towel (be gentle — friction may aggravate acne). Check your products for pore-clogging ingredients, which might be making your acne worse!

Seek out zinc. Zinc pyrithione is the go-to ingredient for fighting fungal acne. It has antimicrobial properties that help to stop the growth of acne-causing fungus and bacteria. It’s also used in over-the-counter products for dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Fungal acne products

Here are a few zinc pyrithione products we can vouch for.

Because acne is complex, vanquishing fungus may be just one step to achieving clear skin. You can take the guesswork out of your skincare routine when you sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover shipping and handling). We’ll pair you with one of our in-house dermatology providers who can prescribe you a customized cream and field your questions about all things acne.

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Curology Team

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