Fungal Acne vs. Hormonal Acne: What’s the Difference?

Acne in any form, at any age, is a frustrating experience. You look in the mirror each day desperately trying to see if those bumps and blemishes on your skin's surface have magically cleared up overnight. More than likely, unless you’re using the exact right skincare treatment options and active ingredients to fight your specific type of acne, those pesky bumps are still there.

There are many different forms of acne which can make it hard to determine the root cause and how to proceed with an effective treatment. Where it gets even trickier is when other skin conditions that mimic the most common acne outbreaks. Hormonal acne and fungal acne can be especially difficult to treat, especially if you don't know how to tell which one is causing your latest breakout.

What Is Fungal Acne?

Here’s the strange news when it comes to fungal acne. It’s not actually acne. In fact, fungal acne is considered a form of folliculitis or pityrosporum, which occurs when the skin reacts to an infection in your hair follicle caused by yeast overgrowth. Most of the time, this fungal infection looks like an acne breakout, but it’s just a clogged hair follicle that’s inflamed and infected, causing a pus-filled bump on the surface of your skin. How annoying is that? What looks like traditional acne, may be fungal, and not be acne at all. So, this whole time, you may have been trying to treat fungal acne with your normal over-the-counter acne treatments and wondering why they don't seem to be working.

What Are the Causes of Fungal Acne?

As stated before, fungal acne or pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by a type of skin yeast referred to as malassezia folliculitis. Most of the time, it affects teenagers or those with excessively oily skin types. Damage or irritation to the skin can cause fungal acne. People who live in moist environments can also be more prone to getting it since the condition thrives on sweat. Men and teenage boys are more likely to get fungal acne than women. 

Other causes include exercise, tight clothing that doesn't let the skin breathe, and skin rubbing against other skin. It can present as small clusters of red bumps around the forehead, chin, or sides of the face. Sometimes these irritated hair follicles can also occur on the body, including the chest, back, and arms.  

What Is Hormonal Acne? 

Hormonal acne consists of blemishes and breakouts that occur in early adulthood. They show up in the form of clogged pores such as whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, or other comedones (pimples). Each of these clogged pores is filled with sebum (an oily substance), dead skin cells, and even bacteria. 

This type of inflammatory acne mostly affects people in their teens and 20s. While it’s common in both men and women, most hormonal acne affects women because of the fluctuations in their hormone levels each month due to their menstrual cycle. Pregnant women and women going through menopause can also see an uptick in hormonal acne. 

What Are the Causes of Hormonal Acne? 

When a person experiences hormonal acne, it’s mainly caused by changes in their hormone levels that increase the skin’s production of sebum. That excess oil clogs the pores, leading to the appearance of bumps, blemishes, and even cystic acne. 

It can be exacerbated or made worse by stress, lack of sleep, poor dietary choices, and even the wrong hair or skincare products.

How to Diagnose What Type of Acne You Have

The best way to figure out what type of acne you have is by seeing a skincare specialist or dermatologist. They will be able to examine your acne, determine your medical history, and figure out where those pesky pimples are coming from. It could be fungal acne, which is folliculitis, or acne from hormonal changes regularly occurring in your body. When you can’t see a dermatologist, here are some ways to diagnose the acne type on your own. 

  • Hormonal Acne: This type of acne can look like a lot of different types. That includes whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, or cysts that are inflamed with red bumps well under the skin. Look at the skincare products you are using, whether you’re experiencing hormonal changes, and lifestyle factors to determine if you’re experiencing hormonal acne. 
  • Fungal Acne: A doctor usually needs to swab your skin to determine if there is an overgrowth of yeast in your hair follicles to determine if a fungal infection is causing your skin problems. The only way you can tell at home is by looking at the size and location of the bumps. If they are in small red clusters around your forehead, neck, or chin, it may be a fungal acne infection. 
  • Bacterial Acne: This type of acne develops from an overproduction of oil that mixes with bacteria on your skin to create different acne bumps. They can show up as any of the types of hormonal acne that we have talked about. When those clogged pores become infected due to “p acne bacteria” or propionibacterium, it can form a pimple. That pimple may be red with some pus forming at the top of it. 
  • Regular Acne: Acne vulgaris or what people consider as “regular acne” is mainly whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples that form on the top of the skin. This comedonal acne is mainly due to the wrong kinds of skincare, excessively oily skin, or another trigger of some sort. This type is usually smaller and can clear up rather quickly in a couple of weeks with the right skincare treatment. 


How to Treat Fungal Acne

Here’s the thing about fungal acne. It’s a skin infection in the hair follicles that needs topical treatment or oral antifungal medication, prescribed by a healthcare provider or dermatologist. There are some home remedies and skincare products that can make it better, but the best way to eliminate it completely is with a prescription anti-fungal treatment that may include oral medication or a cream. 

How to Treat Hormonal Acne

The best way to treat hormonal acne is with the right topical skincare treatments and routines that won’t clog your pores. For women, you can also talk with your doctor about birth control pills that may help to regulate your hormones, reducing monthly breakouts. There are a few different types that are approved by the FDA for treating acne. Using that in combination with the right skincare routine for acne-prone skin from Cosmedica Skincare will hopefully make your acne issues a thing of the past.

If you suffer from severe acne and oral contraceptives don't seem to be working, a Dermatologist might need to prescribe you something stronger like a topical retinoid or oral antibiotic.

Cosmedica Skincare Products for Acne-Prone Skin

Regardless of where your acne is coming from, using the right products from Cosmedica Skincare can help make improvements in your skin. Getting into the right regimen can help your skin maintain a better balance of oil and water, an improved texture and tone, and an enviable glow. Here are some of the best products in skincare technology that we make at Cosmedica Skincare for acne-prone skin. 

Facial Masks to Try 

There are three facial masks that we offer at Cosmedica Skincare that will work for acne-prone skin. Our Brightening Pumpkin Mask is filled with alpha hydroxy acids that are going to naturally exfoliate the skin. This can help to rid the skin of dirt, dead skin cells, excess sebum, and other debris that is clogging your pores, and may be contributing to your acne problems. Use it a few times per week to help regulate sebum production for brighter and clearer skin.  


The next mask that will help to clear up congested skin is the Deep Detox Charcoal Mask. With detoxifying charcoal, this mask will pull debris and impurities out of your skin. It also contains kaolin clay, which is a natural exfoliant that draws out dirt and bacteria trapped deep within your pores. Suitable for use three times per week. 


Finally, at Cosmedica Skincare we’re always coming up with new products after loads of in-depth research to make real improvements in your skin. One of our latest innovations is a brand new mask called the Hyaluronic Dew Multi-Mask. This treatment is full of moisture-binding hyaluronic acid, which our bodies naturally produce, and can make the skin plumped up and dewy. Plus, with a bounty of skin-soothing ingredients, this overnight mask can help get rid of any redness and irritation you may have from inflamed acne bumps and blemishes. 


Not Your Typical Exfoliant 

Sometimes people with acne-prone skin have trouble using manual exfoliants. Scrubs can sometimes be too harsh on the skin, making active acne bumps even worse. That’s why using a chemical exfoliant can help. Our Mineral Enzyme Exfoliant is a spray-on formula that, when used after cleansing, can help get rid of excess dirt, debris and makeup clogging your pores and making acne worse. The powerful natural enzymes help to sweep away impurities, resulting in skin that is clearer and more balanced.


At Cosmedica Skincare, we know that having any type of acne can be a frustrating experience. When you have questions about your skincare routine and finding products of ours to help get rid of acne, we’re here for you.  


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