Pityrosporum folliculitis, also known as Malassezia folliculitis, is a condition that causes breakouts on your skin. This condition is considered common. It happens when yeast bacteria, which naturally occur on your skin, get under your skin and into your hair follicles.

Sometimes people with this condition think they have recurring acne and try to treat it as they would hormonal breakouts. This makes it easy to miss or misdiagnose.

People who have it are sometimes more likely to have other conditions like dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. But pityrosporum needs to be treated differently to address the underlying overgrowth. Keep reading to find out more about the symptoms and specific treatments for pityrosporum folliculitis.

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Pityrosporum folliculitis is typically found on the skin of your face, along your hairline, and on your chest, back, or upper arms. The condition tends to occur in areas where your skin is more oily. Small bumps, called pustules, are found on your skin in the affected area. These bumps tend to itch and feel uncomfortable.

Some people have multiple outbreaks caused by this condition, while in others the symptoms are confined to one area of skin.

Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by an overgrowth of yeast bacteria on your skin. This naturally occurring bacteria gets into the hair follicles on your skin and causes breakouts to erupt on your skin’s surface.

Even though yeast occurs naturally on your skin, pityrsporum folliculitis is considered a fungal infection. The yeast bacteria can feed on the oil in your skin, making oily areas on your body more prone to recurrent symptoms. Antibiotics, birth control pills, and hormonal changes can also make you more likely to develop this condition, as they disrupt the natural balance of bacteria on and in your body.

Pityrosporum folliculitis is considered a benign condition. The symptoms might make you uncomfortable, but they aren’t a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Getting diagnosed with pityosporum folliculitis can be less than straightforward, as it mimics the symptoms of the more common condition acne vulgaris. If you’ve tried traditional acne treatment methods and they aren’t relieving your symptoms, ask your doctor to screen you for pityrosporum folliculitis.

To get a proper diagnosis, see a dermatologist. You may want to specifically ask to be tested for this condition before you arrive at your appointment. The doctor will need to scratch your skin gently in the area where you have symptoms to get a cell sample. This sample will be evaluated under a microscope and tested to see if you have pitryosporum folliculitis.

There are several treatments a doctor may prescribe for this condition. An oral antifungal drug (itraconazole) has been studied and shown to have some of the best clinical outcomes. Since some people have both acne and pityrosporum folliculitis, a prescription cocktail that includes steroid and topical anti-acne creams might be prescribed in addition to an oral antifungal drug.

If you’d like to treat pityosporum folliculitis at home, there are several products and home remedies you can try. You can purchase selenium sulfide shampoo (such as Head and Shoulders, Neutrogena, or a pharmacy brand) if your symptoms tend to occur around your hairline. A topical cream, such as Spectazole (econazole), can be applied to try to kill the yeast overgrowth on your skin.

If you’d like to try a home remedy, apply diluted tea tree oil to the area twice per day. Bathing in a solution of sea salt may also help to dry out the skin and treat the infection.

If you’ve been diagnosed with pityrosporum folliculitis, your symptoms should resolve within three to four weeks with treatment. However, you may notice that your symptoms recur, especially when you take antibiotics.

Doctors recommend continuing treatment intermittently to reduce the chances of the rash coming back.

Pityrosporum folliculitis cannot be completely prevented, but there are steps you can take to make future outbreaks less likely.

Washing with an antifungal soap and shampoo may help make your skin a less hospitable host for yeast overgrowths. Taking a probiotic when you’re prescribed antibiotic medication may also help your body fight these overgrowths.

Take care of areas of your skin that are prone to oil buildups by applying a gentle, alcohol-based astringent several times a week.