So, you got fungal acne?
The first step is to rid your skincare routine of ANYTHING that could remotely feed Malassezia, the fungus that’s making your life miserable. I’ve written a post about how to do this here.
The second step is to kill the damn fungus once and for all. But what if you’re not comfortable taking anti-fungals for however long it takes?
I need to say this: my advice is always to see a dermatologist and take her advice, even when she prescribes an anti-fungal.
But if that doesn’t work for you or you want to try a natural remedy first, there are a few natural ways that have been scientifically proven to help heal fungal acne. Here they are:
1. Azelaic Acid
What it is: A byproduct of Malassezia. Yep, the fungus that gives you fungal acne also gives you a way to treat it. Thanks!
Why it works: Scientists aren’t 100% sure yet but it has a lot to do with its ability to reduce the overall fatty acid content (ie the stuff that Malassezia eats to grow) in your skin. Plus, it kills both aerobic (needs oxygen to grow) like Malassezia and anaerobic (doesn’t need oxygen) bacteria like P.Acnes.
How To Use: After serums but before moisturizer.
Side effects: A lot of products with azelaic acid also have ingredients that feed Malassezia. Azelaic acid may counteract some of these effects. Still, pick products high in azelaic acid and low in offenders.
Where to find it: Finacea (prescription only), Paula’ Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster and The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension (£5.50)
Related: The Complete Guide To Azelaic Acid: What It Is, What It Does, And How To Use It
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes fungal acne? Download your FREE “Safe Skincare Products For Fungal Acne” cheat sheet to get started:
2. Caprylic Acid Oil
What it is: A fatty acid with a short carbon chain length found in coconut and MCT oil. It’s one of the few fatty acids Malassezia DOESN’T feed on.
Why it works: It has powerful antifungal properties that can kill Malassezia.
How to use it: As a cleanser or mixed with your moisturizer.
Side effects: Caprylic acid oil is generally considered to be safe.
What it is: A sweet, sticky nectar bees make from the nectar they collect from flowers.
Why it works: Honey has strong antimicrobial properties. Studies show it’s effective against seborrheic dermatitis, a condition caused by the same fungus. Manuka honey is the most effective at this.
How to use it: Apply raw honey on the affected area for 3 hours every other day. If it’s too sticky for you, try products that are high in raw honey (propolis works too). Just make sure they don’t contain anything that feeds the fungus.
Side effects: Raw honey is sticky and feels unpleasant on the skin.
Where to find it: Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey ($29.65), Cosrx Propolis Light Ampoule ($28.00) and Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence ($39.00)
Related: The Benefits Of Honey In Skincare
What it is: A yellowish, nonmetallic element that occurs widely in nature, especially in volcanic deposits.
Why it works: I couldn’t find any research showing it works against fungal acne BUT there’s plenty of proof it’s an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. All conditions that involve Malassezia. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Sulfur works because it sloughs off dead skin cells and produces an acid that is toxic to fungi.
How to use it: As a spot treatment only.
Side effects: Sulfur is harsh on the skin and terribly dries it out. Use it only as the last option on this list and on the affected area only. Oh, it smells like rotten eggs, too. Ewww!
Where to find it: Kala Health MSM Gel ($19.75) and ZO Skin Health Oeffects Sulfur Masque ($45.00)
Related: Sulfur: Good For Acne, Bad For Skin?
5. Tea Tree Oil
What it is: An essential oil derived from the melaleuca alternifolia plant.
Why it works: Lots of studies show it has powerful antimicrobial properties that kill Malassezia.
How to use it: Dilute it with water and use as spot treatment.
Side effects: Tea tree oil can be very irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin. That’s why you need to dilute it.
Where to find it: Tea Tree 100% Pure Best Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil ($6.99) and ArtNaturals 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil ($15.95)
Related: Tea Tree Oil, The Underdog Of Acne Treatments