How to Get Rid of Fungal Acne Naturally

(and other Malassezia-related skin conditions)
beautiful-asian-woman-showing-peace-sign-two-finger-with-happy - How to Get Rid of Fungal Acne

Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that is a normal part of the skin’s flora. It is usually tolerated without any problem. However, when the skin microbiome balance is compromised, the yeast can multiply abnormally.

Malassezia yeast overgrowth can trigger systemic infections as well as other skin conditions. So, if you have any of the following conditions, the information in this article may help.

If you have an itchy rash, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the cause of the problem.

This post focuses on how to get rid of fungal acne and other fungus-related skin conditions using natural products and ingredients

How do I prevent Malassezia overgrowth?

Here are some natural ways to prevent fungal acne and other skin conditions caused by Malassezia overgrowth:

  • Improve the immune system with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and restorative sleep.
  • Reduce and manage stress, which is proven to speed up the skin healing process.
  • Reduce the temperature in the room where you sleep to avoid sweating at night.
  • Use tepid water rather than hot water when cleansing. Hot water can damage skin cells and strip the skin of the outer sebum layer, triggering the over-production of sebum to compensate. Too much sebum creates a host of skin problems.
  • Take short baths or showers or try a no-rinse cleanser to reduce transepidermal water loss.
  • Shave in the direction of the hair growth or stop shaving or waxing.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing of natural fibers.
  • Reduce skin friction with clothing – like the inner thighs.
  • Do not scrub the skin.
  • Use non-comedogenic personal care products.
  • Avoid normal acne products which can alter the skin microbiome in favor of yeast growth.
  • Avoid dyes and artificial fragrances in personal care products.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.
  • Don’t leave makeup on overnight.
  • Use clean makeup brushes, washcloths, and towels.
  • Don’t touch the skin with unwashed hands.
  • Cleanse at least once a day with a gentle, non-drying cleanser, such as a cleansing oil, that doesn’t alter the skin’s pH. If your skin is already affected by Malassezia overgrowth, use a cleanser that will not feed the yeast. (When mixed with water, most bar cleansers and soaps have a pH that is too high for skin health. Some liquid cleansers are also not pH balanced.)
  • Cleanse after exercise and dry thoroughly before dressing.
  • Gently apply a moisturizer at least twice a day to make sure the skin barrier doesn’t get dry. Moisturize both hands and body every time you wash them. If the skin is already affected by Malassezia overgrowth, use a Malassezia-safe moisturizer.
  • Sleep on clean sheets and pillowcases.
  • Use a mild laundry detergent without added dyes or fragrances.
  • Avoid fabric softener.
  • Avoid hot tubs, saunas, steamy showers, and pools.
  • Don’t use drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, or steroids.
  • Consider common allergens such as animal dander, dust, mold, and pollens.
  • Ask a medical professional about natural alternatives to steroid or antibiotic use.

What is maskne?

Maskne refers to acne caused by wearing a face mask for prolonged periods of time. 

There are two main types of maskne: fungal and bacterial. Fungal maskne is caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin, which thrives in warm and humid environments. Bacterial maskne is caused by an imbalance of the skin’s natural bacteria, which can be disrupted by friction, pressure, or occlusion from the mask.

In addition to following the advice listed above, mask wearers should do the following to avoid both types of maskne:

  • Choose a mask that fits well and is made of breathable and soft material, such as cotton or silk.
  • Avoid masks that are too tight, too loose, or made of synthetic fabrics that can trap sweat and oil.
  • Wash your mask after each use with mild detergent and hot water.
  • Do not reuse dirty masks or share them with others.
  • Wash your face before and after wearing a mask with a gentle cleanser that does not strip your skin of its natural oils. Corum no-rinse Superfruit Hydrating Cleanser is perfect for quick cleansing throughout the day.
  • Moisturize your skin with a lightweight and non-comedogenic serum that can hydrate and protect your skin barrier. Apply it at least 15 minutes before putting on your mask to allow it to absorb. Corum Super Serum protects without feeding Malassezia yeast.
  • Avoid wearing makeup under your mask, as it can clog your pores and cause breakouts. If you need to wear makeup, opt for mineral-based powder.
  • Change your mask if it becomes wet or damp from your breath, sweat, or saliva. A wet mask creates the perfect environment for both fungal and bacterial breakouts.
  • Follow the recommendations here for how to get rid of fungal acne. If you are sure you are experiencing regular acne caused by bacterial overgrowth, then read more about how to manage acne naturally.

What skincare ingredients should I avoid to get rid of fungal acne naturally?

If you have any form of fungus-related skin condition, this is the one time to AVOID MOST PLANT OILS until the skin heals and the microbiome has returned to normal.

Malassezia feeds on1:

  • fatty acids with carbon chain lengths 12-24 (found in most plant oils)
  • esters (fatty acids combined with alcohols)
  • glycerides (fatty acids combined with glycerin)
  • polysorbates (emulsifiers that mix oil and water)
  • certain fatty alcohols
  • pH of 5.5-7.5 (normal healthy skin is about 4.7)

That means that ALMOST ALL skincare products will make this particular problem worse. It’s time for MINIMALIST SKINCARE that will starve Malassezia!

You don’t necessarily need to throw out your personal care products but set them aside until your skin barrier is repaired.

1 Dobler, D.; Schmidts, T.; Wildenhain, S.; Seewald, I.; Merzhäuser, M.; Runkel, F. Impact of Selected Cosmetic Ingredients on Common Microorganisms of Healthy Human Skin. Cosmetics 20196, 45.

What kills Malasezia fungus?

Here are some Malassezia-safe ingredients that can help kill Malassezia fungus overgrowth and support a balanced skin microbiome.

Use an oatmeal paste or bath to calm irritation.2

Malassezia yeast creates a biofilm, a kind of shield that prevents many products formulated to kill fungus from actually working as expected. Biofilms can also adapt so that a product may work for a while. When the yeast adapts its biofilm, the product no longer reaches the yeast to kill it.  This biofilm needs to be broken. Xylitol3 has been found to be an effective ingredient to break that biofilm.

Make a natural antifungal mask of Manuka honey, plain yogurt, xylitol, and salt.  The paste will be sticky, so cover it with a bandage or clothing that can be laundered. Leave on for up to 3 hours. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat once or twice a week. For convenience, try using Corum Barrier Repair Manuka Mud Dead Sea Skin Polish.

MCT oil (Caprylic Capric Triglycerides) is a lightweight oil that does NOT  feed Malassezia yeast.

The following essential oils have been shown to kill Malassezia fungus.

  • 1% Jasmine Sambac Flower Extract4 (10 drops in 1 ounce of MCT oil)
  • 5% Tea Tree Essential Oil5 (45 drops in 1 ounce of MCT oil)
  • 1.6% Manuka Essential Oil6 (16 drops in 1 ounce of MCT oil)

The following essential oils have been shown to help relieve itching and pain associated with Malassezia-related skin infections. Start with 0.5% essential oil (4 drops or 0.15 grams in 1 ounce of MCT oil) and gradually add up to 3% (27 drops or .9 grams or 1/4 teaspoon in 1 ounce of MCT oil) only if needed and you don’t experience any adverse reaction.

IMPORTANT: The suggestions above are for healthy adults. Before using essential oils in your personal care products, click here to read about the benefits and risks. If you don’t notice your skin returning to normal within a few weeks, seek advice from a medical professional.

2 Allais, Blair et al. “Colloidal Oatmeal Part I: History, Basic Science, Mechanism of Action, and Clinical Efficacy in the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis.” JDDOnline vol. 19, Issue 10. 21 Sep. 2020.
3 Katsuyama M, Ichikawa H, Ogawa S, Ikezawa Z. A novel method to control the balance of skin microflora. Part 1. Attack on biofilm of Staphylococcus aureus without antibiotics. J Dermatol Sci. 2005 Jun;38(3):197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2005.01.006. Epub 2005 Mar 2. Erratum in: J Dermatol Sci. 2005 Sep;39(3):196. Masako, Katsuyama [corrected to Katsuyama, Masako]; Hideyuki, Ichikawa [corrected to Ichikawa, Hideyuki]; Shigeyuki, Ogawa [corrected to Ogawa, Shigeyuki]; Zenro, Ikezawa [corrected to Ikezawa, Zenro]. PMID: 15927813.
4 Jacinta Santhanam, Farhana Nadiah Abd Ghani, Dayang Fredalina Basri, “Antifungal Activity of Jasminum sambac against Malassezia sp. and Non-Malassezia sp. Isolated from Human Skin Samples”, Journal of Mycology, vol. 2014, Article ID 359630, 7 pages, 2014.
5 Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In vitro activities of ketoconazole, econazole, miconazole, and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against Malassezia species. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2000 Feb;44(2):467-9. doi: 10.1128/AAC.44.2.467-469.2000. PMID: 10639388; PMCID: PMC89709.
6 Mathew C, Tesfaye W, Rasmussen P, Peterson GM, Bartholomaeus A, Sharma M, Thomas J. Mānuka Oil-A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2020 Oct 26;13(11):343. doi: 10.3390/ph13110343. PMID: 33114724; PMCID: PMC7694078.

Can diet help to control Malassezia overgrowth?

man with itchy red bumps on his chest - get rid of malassezia naturally

What goes in makes a difference in the skin!

For a very long time, I ignored the possibility that what I ate might affect my skin because I didn’t want to change my eating habits. When health issues forced me to start watching what I put in my body, I found that eating a low-inflammation, hormone-balancing diet could lead to healthier, clearer skin.

If you have any kind of fungal infection of the skin consider the following dietary changes.

Eliminate these foods which compromise the gut and skin microbiome:

  • Processed sugar and white foods (bread, pasta, rice, chips, crackers, etc.), which encourage yeast growth.  Alternative sweeteners are honey, coconut sugar, and xylitol. (Keep xylitol away from dogs.)
  • Processed food (most things that are not found in the produce, dairy, whole grain, or meat departments of grocery stores or food that is delivered through a drive-thru window)

Add these foods to help balance the skin microbiome from the inside out:

  • 2-3 quarts of water a day
  • Small amounts of organic, grass-fed meat
  • A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) 
  • Omega-rich foods like flax seeds, walnuts, and cold-water fish such as salmon and trout
  • Microgreen (paid link) superfoods like radish, sunflower and peashoot (paid link) and prebiotics like acacia powder (paid link)
  • Prebiotic chicory (paid link) in coffee
  • Probiotics like kombucha, unsweetened sauerkraut, plain yogurt or kefir
  • Digestive enzymes (paid link) to get the most nutrition from food and improve the gut microbiome
  • Anti-fungal spices such as black cumin, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, clove, thyme, and oregano
  • Antifungal onions and garlic
  • Make a daily anti-fungal “tea” with water, green tea, lemon, ginger, honey, turmeric, black pepper, and a 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee.

Is there Malassezia-safe deodorant?

If you have an itchy rash on your armpits or other sweaty areas like the groin (bikini area) or under your breasts, try Corum Malassezia Deodorant. Stop the stink while supporting a healthy microbiome.

Is there Malassezia-safe makeup?


Choose makeup carefully. Some ingredients in makeup can create more problems. Powder mineral makeup that does not contain plant oils is the least likely to further damage the skin barrier in those with a Malassezia-related condition. Mineral makeup, unlike most liquid and cream foundations, simply doesn’t have all the ingredients necessary to create an emulsion. Many of those extra ingredients will feed Malassezia and need to be avoided until the skin microbiome is restored to normal.

What is a good skincare routine with Malassezia-safe products?

Follow a minimalistic routine with Malassezia-safe products until the skin returns to normal. Whatever product you want to try, test it on a small area first to see how your skin reacts.

  1. Cleanse twice a day with a gentle, Malassezia-safe cleanser such as Corum Hydrating Cleanser.
  2. Once or twice a week, help break the Malassezia biofilm by applying Corum Barrier Repair Manuka Mud Dead Sea Skin Polish. 
  3. Moisturize and soothe as needed with Corum Soothing Malassezia Moisturizer.
  4. Many creamy sunscreens will make Malassezia folliculitis worse. I recommend a mineral powder Malassezia safe sunscreen (paid link) be reapplied every 2 hours during sun exposure using a clean brush or sponge.

Once the skin barrier microbiome has returned to normal, it’s a good idea to introduce skin food plant oils into your skincare routine.


Malassezia Control Skincare Routine Details

What's a good scalp care routine for Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Studies suggest seborrheic dermatitis is caused by Malassezia yeast, too! Excess oil on the scalp creates an environment that feeds the yeast and once it takes over, it creates a biofilm on the scalp, like on other parts of the body, that needs to be broken down.
The scalp needs to be cared for like the rest of the skin and some shampoos and conditioners can adversely affect the microbiome of the scalp.  
The Corum Malassezia-safe products are great for the scalp, too.
  1. Cleansing Oil – Add a couple of teaspoons of Corum Barrier Repair Oil Cleanser to your scalp and massage it in. Rinse with warm water to remove the excess oil.
  2. Once or twice a week, help break the Malassezia biofilm by mixing Corum Barrier Repair Manuka Mud Dead Sea Skin Polish to the scalp. Leave for 3 hours or overnight. You may want to put an extra pillowcase on your pillow or add a very soft towel.
  3. Wash your hair with an antifungal shampoo or wash all your hair with Corum Malassezia Safe Oil Cleanser. The oil cleanser isn’t sufficient to fight fungal growth, but it won’t feed it either. Washing your hair with Corum Oil Cleanser isn’t as bad as you might imagine! There’s just no lather. Rinse it well.
  4. Most conditioners will feed the Malassezia yeast on your scalp. If you apply conditioner, do not allow it to touch your scalp. Apply it so it only gets on your hair strands. 
  5. Apply a small amount of the Malassezia Moisturizer to your scalp on the affected areas. 

How long does it take to repair Malassezia-affected skin?

Repairing a damaged skin barrier can take several weeks or longer. Cell turnover takes a few weeks, but adjusting the skin microbiome can take longer because it’s related to overall health as well as your skincare routine.

I struggled for decades with various skin issues, and I didn’t get consistently clear skin until I took a holistic approach that meant adjusting my diet, stress level, sleep, gut microbiome, and exercise, as well as the skincare products I was using.

I recommend you continue reading the articles in the Malassezia section of this blog to understand better how the skin works, some habits you might consider stopping, and some you might need to consider starting to have healthy skin.

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