Do you find yourself with tiny, stubborn bumps in your t-zone area and chest/back that never seem to go away? No matter how many acne treatment products you use? It’s not acne, it’s more than likely pityrosporum folliculitis. Pityrosporum folliculitis is a phrase in skincare that sounds nasty and complicated, but it’s not. It’s basically a fancy scientific phrase for a form of fungal acne that flares up in areas where sebum production happens the most. If you have oily skin, you’re more likely to have it because your sebum is like dinner for malassezia, which is the fungus naturally found in our skin and causes the folliculitis.
It differs from traditional acne because of its fungal properties, whereas traditional acne is caused by bacteria. Treating pityrosporum folliculitis requires a different route than treating bacterial acne, so here’s 5 ingredients and products to incorporate into your routine to treat it.
1. Zinc Pyrithione
This is probably the most important ingredient you can use in regards to fungal acne. Studies have shown that zinc pyrithione is effective when it comes to inhibiting the malassezia since it’s an anti-fungal agent. The easiest way to incorporate this ingredient into your routine is by using a soap with zinc pyrithione, such as Noble 2% Zinc Pyrithione Soap. You use it daily or a few times a week, depending on how your skin reacts to it because it is known to be drying. You can also opt for a customized Curology prescription where they offer zinc pyrithione as well.
Also known as beta hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid. But not just any salicylic acid. In order to treat fungal acne with salicylic acid, you would have to specifically use Stridex since it’s the only known BHA product on the market that’s formulated without polysorborate 20, which is basically an ingredient that feeds the fungus.
3. Azelaic Acid
A truly slept on ingredient, this multitasker is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and does a great job at targeting dark spots to even out the skin. The only downside to azelaic acid is that it’s not readily available over the counter unless you’re using Curology so the selection is a bit limited. But The Ordinary does sell it for around $8 at a whopping 10%.
Sulfur is one of those old school ingredients that can be used for almost anything from dandruff, acne, eczema, and if you’re familiar with Sulfur 8, hair growth. It works in two ways to to inhibit the growth of malassezia in the skin: it sheds the fungus from the skin and releases a substance called pentathionic acid which is toxic to malassezia, thus inhibiting the fungus. Thankfully sulfur has been used in skincare products for ages so you have a ton of products to choose from high end to low end, but you may not need to look further than this $7 tub of ointment that’s 10% sulfur that you can use as a face mask.
5. Tea Tree Oil
For all my holistic ladies out there who prefer natural skincare, tea tree oil will definitely do right by you with its antimicrobial properties. But remember that you must always dilute tea tree oil before applying it to your face, it’s a very potent and strong oil that can be extremely irritated if not used with caution. You can either use straight tea tree oil and dilute it to a 1% concentration or you can try your hand with products like the tea tree oil line from The Body Shop which are highly praised for treating both facial and body acne.
“Erin Dyana is a freelance writer with a focus on pop culture, criticisms, and beauty. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Urban Social TV, Wear Your Voice Magazine, Clementine Zine, and Philadelphia Print Zine. In her free time she likes to create art, watch films, read books, and eat everything in sight."