Malassezia (yeast spores) infects hair follicles in a similar way that acne bacteria does. It hangs out down in the follicles, eating oils (whether produced by your skin or added by products) and causing inflammation. Sometimes, dead skin cells get trapped as well. The end result is a fungal breakout, that looks often red or skin-colored bumps, occasionally whiteheads, sometimes a mixture of both. Other signs of fungal acne are itchiness, and that all the “bumps, pimples” seem to appear all at once, or are in very similar stages,
The malassezia fungi love oil, so they will most often congregate in your T-zone (forehead, nose, chin), but can also cause small bump like breakouts on other parts of the face also on the shoulder, back and chest. It can also grow every well in warm, and humid conditions, making malassezia, formerly known as pityrosporum folliculitis, much more common in summertime and in hot, sticky climates such as Florida, (The Philippines, and Singapore, which are both warm and humid climates, have been found to have the highest rate of web-Google searches for “fungal acne”). Note: The Malassezia fungi also thrive WELL if you sweat a lot.
This yeast is lipophilic (its food source are lipids). That’s why SD ( seborrheic dermatitis) is mainly found in sebaceous gland areas. And of course, sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is rich in lipids (triglycerides). As you can imagine, THIS becomes the "food" for the yeast.
Malassezia is actually on everyone’s skin, but for some reason, (and I think it is a compromised pH-acid mantle barrier problem) only some of us will develop the condition. Basically, Malassezia breaks down the triglycerides it is feeding on (ours and also products we apply that contain lipids like coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter...etc.) into free fatty acids. These free fatty acids then initiate an irritant inflammation type response that presents with flaking and redness. In many people there are bumps and pustules present.
Treating it: Traditional acne therapies, especially antibiotics, will actually make it worse. The antiobiotics can change the skin’s microbial community in a way that gives malassezia a very good advantage to continue and prosper.
Keeping the pH of your skin low (its' natural state is 4) and acid mantle barrier active, you can fight this fungus. The acid mantle barrier is compromised by many things. Over washing, drying high pH soaps etc. The pH is simple to correct, and needs to be done daily until it takes back "over" its' job. How to correct it? Use a Toner-Spray with Tea Tree and Apple Cider Vinegar like mine. 2X day, right after washing your skin. When your skin is stripped and the pH too high, all the invaders take over and wreak havoc.
You have to avoid purposely "feeding" the fungus. This means don't use coconut oil, or really an oils except the miracle oil called MCT. Have you heard of it? Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil? It is a thin, easily absorbed, non greasy wonder!
The reason MCT oil does not cause any problems for those with malassezia , fungal acne is because it’s made from caprylic (octanoic) and capric (decanoic) acid (C8 and C10 ), which are two fatty acids that are outside of that C11-24 range. The fungus can't get a meal off of it. MCT Oil can be used for many things, such as Oil Cleansing Method, Moisturizer, Lip Oil, and all over body oil. This oil quickly absorbs and leaves no residue or greasy feel. No aroma and no color.
My next blog post will cover Acid Mantle Barrier + pH