What Is Pityrosporum Folliculitis and How Do I Treat It?

GoodRx / Maryann Mikhail, MD

Key takeaways: 

  • Pityrosporum folliculitis looks like acne but is caused by a yeast overgrowth.
  • Acne treatments can make pityrosporum folliculitis worse.
  • With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can get rid of pityrosporum folliculitis.

If you have breakouts that won’t go away like regular pimples do, you might have pityrosporum folliculitis, also called fungal acne. Pityrosporum folliculitis is a rash that’s easily mistaken for acne. Unfortunately, acne medications can make it worse. But once you have the right diagnosis, you can get rid of pityrosporum folliculitis with proper treatment. 

Read on to learn about pityrosporum folliculitis, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is pityrosporum folliculitis?

Pityrosporum folliculitis, also known as fungal folliculitis or fungal acne, is a yeast infection of the hair follicles. The culprit is Malassezia, a yeast that normally lives on the skin of 90% of humans. In the right conditions, it:

  • Overgrows
  • Invades hair follicles
  • Multiplies
  • Triggers inflammation

Conditions that can lead to pityrosporum folliculitis include:

  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being on antibiotics
  • Being on oral steroids
  • Heat and humidity
  • Excess sweating

What are the symptoms of pityrosporum folliculitis?

Pityrosporum folliculitis looks a lot like acne. Like acne, you get red breakouts on the face, chest, and back. But there are some important features that distinguish pityrosporum folliculitis:

  • The breakouts are rash-like — tiny pustules that look the same and are the same size.
  • It tends to be itchy.
  • You’re less likely to see blackheads and whiteheads.
  • It gets worse with antibiotics.

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