Fungal acne can be successfully eradicated by following this simple 3-step fungal acne treatment plan: eliminate products with ingredients that promote the growth of the Malassezia yeast, regularly use an antifungal product, and only use products that are fungal acne safe.
I initially suspected that I had fungal acne because topically using an anti-dandruff shampoo suddenly cleared up my acne; but, when I stopped using it, the acne came back. My doctor finally confirmed my suspicions by doing a biopsy on one of my pimples. For the treatment, he prescribed me a two-week course of an oral antifungal (fluconazole). Although that did clear my acne up for a little while, it came back within a month of stopping the medication. Below are the steps I took to clear my fungal acne for good and prevent it from coming back.
STEP 1: Eliminate all products that are not fungal acne safe
Fungal acne, or Malassezia (Pityrosporum) folliculitis, is caused by a yeast, and therefore fungal acne treatment starts with eliminating products that are feeding this yeast and promoting its growth. Non-fungal acne safe products contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Fatty Acids
- Yeasts/Fermented Yeasts/Fermented Oils
Most products currently on the market contain one or more ingredients that are not fungal acne safe. These include facial cleansers, makeup, foundation, body wash (if suffering from body acne), lotion, toner, serum, and creams. For the treatment of fungal acne, it is crucial that these products are not used on the skin, especially in severely affected areas. Anything and everything that touches your skin needs to be carefully assessed to make sure it is fungal acne safe.
STEP 2: Use an antifungal product regularly
The ingredients ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and selenium sulfide found in topicals have been proven to be the most effective in treating fungal acne. As fungal acne has a high incidence of recurrence, there is a need for maintenance therapy, meaning regularly using antifungal topicals even after the fungal acne has cleared up. In my case, the most effective way to keep my skin clear is by using a ketoconazole shampoo every 3-4 days.
Using antifungal products can irritate the skin, so do a patch test and see how your skin reacts. The longer you keep the product on the skin, the more likely it is to irritate, so test in stages. For example, do a patch test for a minute, and if your skin doesn’t react, try it on your whole face for a minute. If your skin doesn’t sting or get irritated, you can go up to 90 seconds after 3-4 days. For me, I can only keep the antifungal shampoo on my face for 5 minutes, and 10 minutes on the rest of my body. Again, this is different for everyone, so take your time testing and see how your skin reacts.
STEP 3: Use products that are fungal acne safe
This goes hand-in-hand with the first step. As you find your skin clearing up, you will want to slowly start incorporating products that are fungal acne safe. I recommend that you take your time doing this. Test one product at a time to see how your skin reacts, then slowly add products as you go. While a lot of people will already see a huge improvement in their skin once they start using an antifungal product, it wasn’t until I went fully fungal acne safe that my skin cleared up completely. Your skin might not react well to an ingredient that is considered to be fungal acne safe – this is completely normal and expected since everyone’s skin is unique and reacts differently to ingredients.
In addition to these steps, I also recommend the following tips:
- Remove sweaty clothes and take a shower right after working out,
- Shower regularly, especially on hot and humid days, and
- Avoid tight and constricting clothing and only wear clothes with breathable fabrics.
Suffering from fungal acne severely limits our options when it comes to skincare and beauty products. Furthermore, finding the right products that work takes a lot of time and effort. However, once you have carefully followed these steps, your fungal acne is almost guaranteed to clear up. That being said, if you have done all these things for a month and there is still no improvement in your acne, it might be time to consult a doctor.