Fungal Acne vs. Hormonal Acne

Fungal Acne vs. Hormonal Acne: 3 Key Differences

Learn the distinctions between fungal acne and hormonal acne and discover effective treatments and skincare tips for each condition with this helpful guide.

When you struggle with acne, you may spend all your time and effort trying to tackle the symptoms. However, it is essential to identify the root cause of acne before you try to fix your breakouts. 

Why? Because there are different types of acne, two of the most prevalent being fungal and hormonal. Just as a doctor wouldn’t prescribe you antibiotics to treat a virus, you can’t solve a specific type of acne breakout without using the correct treatment methods. 

Read on to learn the key differences between fungal acne vs. hormonal acne. Once you know the weak spots of your skin condition, you can invest in the right skincare tools to banish them once and for all. 

Fungal Acne: Appearance & Symptoms

As the name suggests, this pimple category is caused by a type of fungus: yeast, to be specific. These pimples pop up when your hair follicles become infected with Malassezia yeast.1

Fungal acne appears in small, red bumps, which can sometimes grow and become whiteheads or pus-filled pockets.2

When the hair follicle gets plugged from a fungal infection, it creates bumps and irritation on the skin. This condition is not just visible; it can also cause the skin to feel itchy. 

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Hormonal Acne: Appearance & Symptoms

This kind of acne occurs when fluctuations in your hormone levels cause pores to produce excess sebum. 

Normally, sebum is a helpful oil that keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized. But too much of a good thing can overwhelm the skin. When your sebaceous glands go into overdrive due to a hormonal change, bacteria can feed on the extra oil, grow in number, clog your pores, and cause oily skin.

Hormonal acne causes lesions, or damaged skin tissue, that can appear on the face, back, and chest.2 These blemishes can be inflamed, red, and painful. 

Many assume hormonal acne only occurs during adolescence when our bodies are going through puberty. However, this is far from the truth. Some people get acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. 

Hormonal acne often affects adult women in particular because of factors such as:3

  • Stopping or starting birth control
  • Menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy 
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

What's the Difference Between Fungal vs. Hormonal Acne

Regarding fungal vs. hormonal acne, the two types of breakouts share a couple of similarities. Both kinds: 

  1. Start in the hair follicle
  2. Result from clogged pores

However, there are three key ways in which these two types of acne differ. Fungal and hormonal acne are not the same when it comes to:3

  1. The areas where they flare up – While hormonal acne typically appears on the chin, jaw, and neck, fungal acne habitually appears on the forehead and hairline.
  2. How they feel – Fungal acne often leads to an itchy sensation in the affected areas, while hormonal acne does not.
  3. How big they are – Hormonal acne usually penetrates deep into the skin, while fungal acne is smaller in size.

To help identify which type of acne is ailing you, pay attention to the patterns in which your breakouts occur. 

For instance, heat and humidity can worsen fungal acne, so if you sweat excessively or wear clothes that cling tightly to the body, you could unknowingly contribute to fungal growth. 

On the other hand, if you track the cycles of your acne and realize that it flares up during periods of hormonal fluctuation, that’s a sign you’re dealing with hormonal acne. 

Treatment Approaches for Fungal Acne

Since fungal acne is a completely different condition than other kinds of acne, using conventional acne treatments to target fungal infection isn’t the best route to take. 

Antifungal medication, either oral or topical treatment, is the best way to target the underlying instigator of fungal acne. 

Popular solutions include skin creams with antifungal ingredients or dandruff shampoos. 

Managing Hormonal Acne

Both topical and oral options are available to treat hormonal acne

When it comes to topical remedies, your best bet is to stick with skincare products that are free of oil and entirely non-comedogenic. It’s helpful to invest in anti-inflammatory solutions that contain ingredients like:

  • Green tea (decreases inflammation)
  • Aloe Vera (relieves irritation and redness)
  • Mandelic acid (increases collagen production and cell turnover gently)4

In addition to gentle face cleansers, including non-comedogenic face moisturizers and exfoliators in your skincare routine is important. This will allow you to remove dead skin cells before restoring hydration and balance to your face. 

Oral acne supplements can be an effective solution to prevent hormonal acne at its source. Many of these products support bodily systems like the liver to help balance your hormone levels. 

Preventive Measures for Both Types

It’s very possible to have more than one type of acne at once. If you’re still not sure whether you have fungal, hormonal, or bacterial acne, focus on these two areas that can have a big impact on your skin regardless of your acne situation: 

  • Diet – Eating a balanced diet is a smart strategy for fighting acne from the inside out. Experts recommend following a hormonal acne diet that includes consuming more starch, protein, and fiber while cutting down on sugars and simple carbohydrates to slow the growth of fungi like yeast.5 Refined carbs and sugars can also worsen hormonal acne, so it’s best to prioritize your nutrition if you’re trying to reduce acne.2
  • Skincare – It’s important to maintain a consistent skin cleansing routine, especially after you sweat. Don’t scrub too vigorously because dry skin can produce more sebum. Simply use high-quality, non-comedogenic products and cleanse gently but regularly. 

Elevate Your Anti-Acne Skincare Routine With CLEARSTEM

Now that you understand the differences between hormonal acne vs. fungal acne, you’re better equipped to combat the cause of your acne. Finally, you can start revolutionizing your skincare to see real results and clear skin. 

CLEARSTEM’S expert team has formulated breakthrough products specifically designed to treat acne at the source.

Our hormonal acne supplement reduces persistent acne from the inside out. Additionally, our line of skincare for acne-prone skin features moisturizers, serums, cleansers, masks, and oils formulated with powerful ingredients for combatting breakouts. Browse our selection to start your journey towards radiant, blemish-free skin. 


Sources: 

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Fungal Acne. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24341-fungal-acne
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Hormonal Acne. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21792-hormonal-acne
  3. Forbes. What Is Hormonal Acne? Causes And Treatments. https://www.forbes.com/health/conditions/acne/hormonal-acne/
  4. Healthline. Benefits and Uses of Mandelic Acid. https://www.healthline.com/health/mandelic-acid
  5. Dr. Michele Green, MD Cosmetic Dermatologist. Fungal Acne Treatment. https://www.michelegreenmd.com/fungal-acne-treatment