Malassezia Folliculitis (MF) is commonly referred to as fungal acne. However, in reality, it is not acne at all and therefore requires a completely different treatment approach than “regular” acne.
Malassezia Folliculitis (MF) is caused by the excessive growth of yeast on our skin. These oil-loving mushrooms (Malassezia) can be found on every human skin. However, there are several factors that can lead to increased growth. In hot, humid weather or when you sweat, yeast levels tend to increase. This can lead to an infection of the hair follicle. In this context, high levels of yeast promote inflammation, which in turn can manifest as fungal acne on the skin.
Table of Contents
What is fungal acne? – Malassezia folliculitis
Fungal acne is actually not acne but is a type of subterranean pimple. It only got its name because of the very similar symptoms. Actually, it is Malassezia folliculitis – a fungal disease. Hence the second part of the name: Fungus is the Latin name for mushroom. That sounds worse than it is because everyone carries this fungus on their skin. Only if it spreads too much can it cause problems and result in many, small, stubborn pimples. These mostly occur on the forehead and are known as fungal acne. This skin problem should not be confused with grater skin (keratosis pilaris). This looks similar on the forehead but has a completely different background
Malassezia is the cause of fungal acne
In contrast to normal acne, the cause of fungal acne is not a bacterium but a fungus – more precisely a yeast fungus. This fungus is called Malassezia, which is why fungal acne is dermatologically correct also called Malassezia folliculitis. Malassezia yeasts are part of the physiological human skin flora. At the same time, however, they are also known to cause various skin diseases. One of these skin diseases is fungal acne.
It is believed that Malassezia folliculitis results from the Malassezia yeast penetrating deeper into the skin glands. This is usually associated with increased sebum production. As a result, skin irritations such as small pimples, redness, and itching develop.
Small pimples on the forehead – symptoms of fungal acne
In order to recognize fungal acne, it is important to know what symptoms it brings with it. The most common symptom is tiny papules. Papules are a special type of pimple that cannot be squeezed out. They are, as it were, inflamed nodules with no content. In colloquial terms, fungal acne can be recognized by mini-pimples that cannot be expressed. These very often wet the forehead, but the upper part of the chest and back or the cheek and jaw area can also be affected. The small pimples often itch and can become very inflamed when rubbed. Pigment disorders can also be possible as a result of fungal acne.
Another sign is that common anti-pimple products and treatments are not helping. The reason for this is that these usually fight the acne-causing bacteria. The Malassezia mushroom is of course unimpressed by this and continues to multiply.
If despite the symptoms, you are still unsure whether your case is fungal acne, you should definitely ask a dermatologist before starting any treatment. They can easily see under the microscope whether Malassezia Furfur is a possible trigger.
Fighting Fungal Acne – This Really Helps
We already know that common anti-pimple products and treatments won’t help with fungal acne. Various home remedies promised as remedies such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil tend to cause even more damage. But what really helps? There are different approaches. However, we will introduce you to the absolute secret weapon first.
Ketoconazole for Malassezia acne
To treat a fungus, you need an antifungal agent. The most suitable for the Malassezia mushroom is ketoconazole. This anti-fungicide is able to fight the Malassezia yeast effectively. Since Malassezia not only triggers fungal acne but also dandruff on the scalp, ketoconazole can find in many anti-dandruff shampoos. Ideally, you use a shampoo with at least 2% ketoconazole. You can find this in the pharmacy or directly at amazon.
Ketoconazole is also available in various ointments, but you have to pay attention to which fat or oil was used as the base. We’ll come back to that later. We and many of our customers have had very positive experiences with the shampoo, which is why we recommend this:
How Do You Use Ketoconazole For Fungal Acne?
You apply the ketoconazole like a kind of mask where the small pimples have settled and leave it on for 7 to 8 minutes. Then you should rinse it off thoroughly. Since the active ingredient can dry out the skin, hydration is particularly important. You can use an intensive serum or a mask for this.
You can find a suitable serum here: The Deep Hydrating Serum provides your skin with intensive moisture thanks to its 9-fold moisture complex.
The fungus multiplies in sweat, so you should avoid it if possible. Instead of synthetic fabrics that are tight-fitting, wear natural fabrics like cotton. After a workout, you should immediately wipe off the sweat and wash your face. It is best to take off your sweaty clothes immediately. This is especially important if you are struggling with fungal chest and back acne. These damp, sweaty training shirts and sports bras are the perfect habitats for fungi and bacteria.
Cool the mini pimples
You should cool your skin in the areas where the fungal acne is active and the small stubborn pimples appear. On the one hand, this is very pleasant and soothes irritated skin. On the other hand, an increased skin temperature promotes inflammation and sebum production, which indirectly feeds the Malassezia mushroom. Warmth is sometimes inevitable, but saunas, steam baths, and intense sunbathing should be avoided as much as possible. For extra freshness and cooling, you can store your beauty roller in the refrigerator and use it to cool the skin
Acne fungus is common
Once the acute stage of fungal acne has subsided, it is important to take preventive action. Because unfortunately, it is the case that most people are affected, repeatedly get problems with the Malassezia fungus and the resulting fungal acne. That is why proper prevention is particularly important. To do this, you can always use the ketoconazole shampoo as a mask in your skincare routine. But there are other effective ways to protect yourself from the recurrence of fungal acne.
Dermarolling for Fungal Acne
Dermarolling is recommended for the prevention of fungal acne. Because just like the bacteria that cause “normal” impurities, yeasts also love oil and sebum. The higher the skin’s own sebum production, the more comfortable Malassezia feels. To increase blood circulation and regulate sebum production, you can use the derma roller regularly. However, you should make sure that the quality is good so as not to damage your skin. The right care products are also important.
Our recommendation for the prevention of fungal acne: The Dermaroller with a needle length of 0.25mm in combination with vitamin C.
These ingredients promote Malassezia pimples
There are some ingredients that nourish Malassezia and thus cause fungal acne. It has not yet been fully clarified whether certain substances are really triggering. Therefore, the following substances are more of a recommendation. Also, it doesn’t say the following substances are bad for your skin. On the contrary: many of them can be very nurturing. Therefore, you should not ban them from your skincare routine, but rather avoid them in the acute stages of fungal acne.
Fatty acids and oils
Typical examples are: Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Mystic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Lauric Acid, Stearic Acid … (Tip: Here you can also use the list of comedogenic oils as a guide Malassezia acne)
You can usually recognize esters by the ending “-ate”, eg Glyceryl Stearate, Isopropyl Myristate, etc. however, not all esters are problematic. Exceptions are, for example, the salts. If there is a “Sodium” as in Sodium Hyaluronate or Sodium Citrate, there is no danger.
Case in point: Galactomyces
Glycerin Promotes Fungal Acne
There is a lot of debate as to whether glycerin feeds the Malassezia mushroom. In our opinion, you don’t need to worry about glycerin. However, there is already a connection between Malassezia and glycerine. The lipophilic (i.e. fat-loving) yeast fungus splits the triglycerides of our skin sebum into free fatty acids and glycerine. The glycerin is thus more of a by-product than the actual trigger.