What does fungal acne (pityrosporum folliculitis) look like?

Fungal acne (or pityrosporum folliculitis, as your dermatologist would call it), usually looks like a cluster of tiny whiteheads and red irritation on the skin, very similar to regular acne.

However, one of the biggest differences between the two is the size of the pimples/bumps. Fungal acne infections look very uniform in both size and shape—the bumps (called papules/pustules/clogged follicles) are quite tiny, the size of a pinpoint—whereas the zits caused by acne vulgaris may vary in size. Fungal acne often feels itchy and uncomfortable, whereas acne vulgaris doesn’t typically feel any different than normal skin.

Fungal acne may present itself in clusters of white papules that look like whiteheads, while acne is more sparse and spread out. Fungal acne is commonly found on the back, arms, and chest, but acne can appear there too. Likewise, fungal acne can, but rarely, appears on the face. A dermatologist will note the size and distribution of the bumps, as well as other factors, and they’ll be able to diagnose it accurately.

Dermatologists have been trained to identify it. We look at photos, photos, photos for three straight years so that when we see it, we know just what it is.

says Dr. Caren Campbell, a board-certified dermatologist in San Francisco, CA.

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Fungal Acne

A fungal infection that resembles to regular acne—but isn't!

Also Called

Pityrosporum folliculitis, malassezia folliculitis

Looks Like

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Frequently Found On

Chest, back, and arms

Related Concerns

Learn More: Fungal Acne