What Is Pityrosporum Folliculitis and How to Treat It

Man with Folliculitis on his back What Is Pityrosporum Folliculitis and How to Treat It

Most likely you will develop a variety of common rashes in your lifetime, from skin irritation, allergic reaction, acne or infection. Folliculitis is one type of skin rash, caused by the irritation of your hair follicles. Find out the causes, diagnosis and treatment of pityrosporum folliculitis.

What to Know About Folliculitis

What Is Folliculitis?

Folliculitis describes a family of skin rashes caused by the inflammation of the hair follicles, the microscopic tubes in the skin that surround each hair strand. The irritation causes small red bumps that may have whiteheads on them. Folliculitis often looks like an acne breakout, but offers different symptoms. Your skin may be itchy or sting where the bumps are clustered, which isn’t typical of acne. Deeper types of folliculitis can cause large, painful boils. Folliculitis is caused by ingrown hairs from shaving, is a bacterial infection, or can be a fungal infection.

What Causes Pityrosporum Folliculitis?

Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by a yeast infection on your skin, and usually affects teenagers and young adults. Also called “Malassezia folliculitis”, this kind of folliculitis occurs when yeast molecules of the genus Malassezia get into your hair follicles and multiply, creating an acne-like rash on your skin. Malassezia is a naturally occuring yeast on your skin and normally doesn’t cause problems, but certain factors can cause an overabundance of the yeast, which leads to the infection. The same yeast is also associated with a kind of severe dandruff, called “seborrheic dermatitis”. Some of the factors that seem to play a role in the overgrowth of the Malassezia yeast on your skin are the use of oral or topical antibiotics; stress and fatigue; oily skin, the yeast feeds on the oil, wearing of tight, synthetic clothing while sweating, yeast tends to grown in warm, humid environments; diabetes; decreased immunity; being overweight, which leads to increased sweating; use of oral contraceptives or oral steroids, like prednisone.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Pityrosporum folliculitis can be difficult to diagnose because it is so much like an acne eruption. It tends to be in the same oilier areas of your body that acne shows up on, such as the shoulders, chest, and upper back. In order to get a proper diagnosis, your doctor will have to take a look at your skin and verify that your symptoms are not those of acne, but rather pityrosporum folliculitis. As mentioned before, you will not have whiteheads, blackheads, or itching if it us acne. Pityrosporum folliculitis is usually an itchy rash that doesn’t come to a head. The small bumps of pityrosporum folliculitis are pin-head size and uniform in size and shape. Acne eruptions can be varied in size. However, it is not uncommon for an individual to have both acne and pityrosporum folliculitis in the same area, making it trickier to self-diagnose the cause of the bumps. The best approach for diagnosis is to seek the care of a dermatologist. A dermatologist will get a skin sample by gently scraping your skin and then examine the sample with a microscope to determine if there is yeast present. Your dermatologist may also take a small skin biopsy to confirm the presence of the Malassezia yeast.


If your dermatologist determines that you have pityrosporum folliculitis, you will be prescribed an oral and/or a topical medication. They may suggest you continue take antifungal oral medication regularly for maintenance, as you will probably remain susceptible to re-infection. The topical medications include both creams and medicated shampoos. You can continue to wash your body with antifungal soaps and shampoos to prevent recurrence. You should also remove sweaty clothing as soon as possible, manage your stress well to increase your immunity and discontinue use of oral antibiotics and corticosteroids when they are not necessary.

Call Vanguard Today

Contact Vanguard Dermatology, located in the greater New York City area. The board-certified dermatologists at Vanguard can diagnose, treat and help you manage your skin conditions as well as offer a variety of cosmetic dermatology services.

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