Have a breakout that just doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you try?
It turns out the culprit could befungal acne – also known as folliculitis.
Folliculitis, under the guise of acne pimples, can be both painful andstubborn. As persistent and irksome as it is, you don’t have to be stuck with it. Below you’ll learn:
- what folliculitis is and how to spot it
- risk factors for folliculitis
- and treatment and prevention options
WHAT IS FOLLICULITIS?
Although it’s sometimes referred to as fungal acne, folliculitis isn’t exactly acne. Folliculitis is simply an infection of the hair follicle, commonly by malasezzia yeasts.
Like the acne-causing bacteria we so despise, these yeasts are present on everyone’s skin. It’s only when these yeasts grow in number and outbalance the rest of the skin’s microbiome that they illicit an immune response and become a problem.
WHAT DOES FOLLICULITIS LOOK LIKE?
Folliculitis can look a lot like acne and may pop up in the same places you usually get acne, making it hard to tell the difference.
However, there are a few things to look for that set folliculitis apart from regular acne. When you have folliculitis, you may have:
- patches or clusters of red, inflamed spots
- tiny, uniform, flesh-colored or whitehead pimples
- itchiness and dryness
- stubborn spots that resist all your regular treatments
Any one of these signs doesn’t necessarily indicate folliculitis, but if you have 2 or more of these symptoms, it might be worth a second thought.
WHY DO I GET FOLLICULITIS?
If you have acne and folliculitis simultaneously, you’re probably feeling pretty unlucky and wondering how you ended up such an unfortunate soul. Same here.
Folliculitis is caused by yeasts, and yeasts feed on sebum.That’s why it occurs on areas of our body with the most sweat and sebaceous glands, such as on the scalp, face, and upper body.Yeasts also thrive in heat and humidity, such as when we live in a warm climate or exercise frequently.
Other factors that might increase your risk of developing folliculitis include:
- past antibiotic or corticosteroid use
- frequenting gyms (transfer of fungal infections)
- lowered immune system
- pre-existing conditions like diabetes and cancer
Even without these risk factors, some people just happen to be more susceptible to fungal infections than others.
HOW DO I TREAT FOLLICULITIS?
Here is where things can get a little tricky.
Some unlucky individuals like myself, with both acne and folliculitis, may have more difficulty with both diagnosing and treatment.
- First things first, many acne medications can worsen folliculitis, so you’ll need to stop using products like antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide until it clears up.
- As with acne bacteria, cutting off the food supply helps – this means reducing sebum and temporarily eliminating heavy products from your routine.
In my experience, the best and quickest way to get rid of a case of folliculitis is with an over-the-counter antifungal cream.
- Like bacteria, yeasts can also grow resistant to certain treatments, so it doesn’t hurt to switch up the anti-fungal you choose if recurring folliculitis is a problem.
- You may want to include things in your regular routine that will help protect your skin, like selenium sulfide and zinc pyrithione (often found in anti-dandruff shampoo). Yep, that’s right, your anti-dandruff shampoo can actually rid your skin of folliculitis caused by yeasts.
- For a stubborn case of folliculitis, you can also request a prescription-strength anti-fungal like ketoconazole from your doctor.
HOW DO I PREVENT FOLLICULITIS FROM COMING BACK?
Once you’ve gotten things under control, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent future issues.
- Sulfur helps combat acne and folliculitis alike, so a good sulfur cleanser can help treat and prevent future breakouts.
- Oil blotting papers also help mop up any energy source (sebum) the yeast could have access to, which will reduce your risk of recurrence.
- Make sure to wash your hands after working out at the gym, and don’t touch your face or use your clothes to wipe your sweat off.
- It’s possible that a good probiotic might help restore some balance to your skin and body, either in a topical or consumable formula.
The bottom line is that folliculitis can be hard to spot, difficult to treat, and may even be more common than we realize.
Hopefully with these steps you’re able to determine whether you’ve got a stubborn case of folliculitis on your hands, as well as the next steps for treating and preventing it.
Have you ever had folliculitis? What did you do to get rid of it? Let us know below!
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