As the summer heat increases, our body and skin tend to have some red spots rising here and there. But, are they just acne or something different? Here is all you ever need to know about fungal acne and regular acne from the experts themselves.
Yes, no doubt summers are all about bright colours, lustrous hair flying, dewy skin but only if all good things came without any strings attached. Summertime pushes our skin to an edge and one of the most common problems faced by any of us is acne. Every now and then, there is a little bump arising here and there that only heightens with the advent of summer heat and humidity.
Most of the times, we take acne to be a stubborn breakout. As we tend to generalise it more often, it can actually be caused by a whole array of reasons. Acne is more complex and even harder to reason out, at times. Well, here enters, ‘Fungal acne’ that tends to be a great imposter actually. “As fungal acne can be tricky to identify, it is also commonly misdiagnosed as people mistake it for another type of acne.”, agrees Suhina Kaushal, senior growth marketing manager of Maccaron, an online E-commerce platform for Korean beauty brands.
Recently, because of Tiktok, fungal acne has been all around the Internet. While acne is something you and I, or the internet with its “homemade remedies” cannot solve it, fungal acne seems to be less talked about and distinguished. We’ve called upon the skin experts to explain everything you need to know about fungal acne, as well as the best ways to understand its treatment.
What Exactly Is Fungal Acne?
“Fungal acne is caused by the overproduction of yeast, a fungal infection, for example, dandruff. In most cases, it forms in clusters of small similar-sized acnes. It can come through dirty linen, sponges, contact, etc.” Dr Blossom Kochhar, celebrity aromatherapist and beauty guru explains.
Just like the term ‘fungal acne’ was quick to be flooded everywhere and Tiktokers sharing their fungal acne routine but seems like this requires some redefinition. “There is nothing called fungal acne. It is more of a TikTok and social media terminology than an accepted medical terminology. When people describe fungal Acne, what they’re talking about is breakouts which are itchy and acne-like eruptions that happen within hair follicles. These are caused by a yeast known as Malassezia Folliculitis of Pityrosporum Folliculitis.” explains Dr Chytra V Anand, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Kosmoderma.
Here comes the hard part. This yeast is found in everyone’s skin, however, fungal acne occurs when there is too much of this yeast. “When there is a change in the skin pH, or when we get sweaty, and immunity becomes low, the yeast tends to increase and leads to inflammation.” Dr Chytra tells.
How To Identify Fungal Acne?
There are many times you may confuse regular acne with fungal one. However, there are some key differences that help in its identification. Dr Blossom notes some major takeaways, “Fungal acne is pus-filled bumps caused by a fungal infection that generally happens on the arms, chest, and back as opposed to the bacterial acne that larger in size most commonly found on the face, especially around the T-zone area. Fungal acne causes itchiness whereas bacterial acne rarely does cause any itchiness.”
Look for more small whiteheads that are clustered in areas like the chest and the back. “They look similar to whiteheads as they are filled with pus,” explains Suhina.
How Should You Treat Fungal Acne?
Similar to acne, you shouldn’t bother these pus bumps with your hands. “A point to note and watch out for is this condition can be contagious in close encounters because the yeast tends to spread,” warns Dr Chytra.
Depending upon the severity of your fungal acne, your dermatologist might suggest anti-fungal topicals and products. Giving some very important tips Dr Blossom advises –
- “Go to a dermatologist to get an anti-fungal ointment or cream.
- Check if everything, including brushes, disposables, cotton is clean and sterilized. Use an anti-fungal cleanser to clean the area.
- Use Aloe Vera with tea tree and lavender oil, there are chances it may burn with direct application of essential oils.
- If acne has become sticky use an antifungal powder, and if starts to dry up, use an antifungal cream.
- Keep the area moisturised so that it does not leave a mark.”
Not just topicals, you might be prescribed oral antifungal medications if the topical ones do not work. “I usually ask my patients to work out 24 hours after taking oral antifungal medicine because when they sweat, the oral medications are secreted in the sweat, which will then coat the entire hair follicle, making this a more effective therapy. I advise my patients to keep the body areas dry and use clothing that allows the skin to breathe when they have fungal acne,” suggests Dr Chytra.
Suhina also notes some important pointers, “In the case of fungal acne, it needs more complex, careful treatment. Especially, you need to carefully check the cosmetic ingredients. Also, it may not be good to use too many cosmetics. The key is to treat the concern first rather than focus on scars that it could leave behind.”
Can You Prevent Fungal Acne?
Well, just like it’s hard to prevent something that is bound to happen, similarly there are no ways to prevent fungal acne too, however, there are methods to keep breakouts at bay. Dr Blossom notifies of some –
- Eat a balanced diet: Include fruits, vegetables, and proteins to help discourage the overgrowth of fungi.
- Shower after sweating.
- Wear breathable fabrics.
- Use a few drops of tea tree essential oil in your bathwater.
- Use a dandruff shampoo regularly.
So, if your breakouts itch and are concentrated on your upper arms, chest, and back, it’s always the best idea to consult a dermatologist rather than the internet. “Fungal acne can get worse can be dangerous if treated as regular acne. It can be treated properly by restoring the balancing of yeast and bacteria on the skin. It is always recommended to consult a dermatologist for fungal acne to avoid any complications.” warns Dr Blossom. Ultimately, the biggest mistake you can make when dealing with fungal acne is simply mistaking it for regular acne.