Should You Be Washing Your Face With Dandruff Shampoo If You Have Fungal Acne?

From cleansing makeup brushes to removing dirt from clothes, shampoo's versatility is undeniable. What's more, this hair care product is also believed to cure skin conditions like fungal acne. A skin condition that causes inflammation of hair follicles, fungal acne, a type of folliculitis, looks like acne but can cause itchiness, Midland Skin explains. Fungal acne bumps can be papules, which are solid inflamed pimples, or pustules, characterized by pus-filled blisters. Forehead, temples, upper chest, and upper and mid back are the most common places to find fungal acne. Fungal acne develops due to the growth of Malassezia, a type of yeast triggered by humid conditions and the same one that causes dandruff.

There are various ways to treat fungal acne, from oral medication such as itraconazole or fluconazole to over-the-counter topical treatments like clotrimazole cream. Turns out, dandruff shampoo, a specialty shampoo used to treat dandruff, is also believed to cure acne caused by fungi. According to Healthline, using dandruff shampoos made with pyrithione zinc or selenium sulfide as body washes can help you combat fungal acne overgrowth. But how safe is dandruff shampoo for your face?

Is it safe to wash your face with dandruff shampoo?

The magic of dandruff shampoo lies in ketoconazole, an antiandrogen and antifungal medication sold under the brand name Nizoral. Ketoconazole can decrease the levels of fungus on the skin and is widely used in the treatment of dandruff, athlete's foot, and scalp itchiness. It can also treat pimples "when they are resistant to other therapies," explains dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner to Byrdie. Products containing ketoconazole are safe to use in adults and adolescents aged 12 years and older.

Most dandruff shampoos contain ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide, which makes them suitable for use on areas of the face and body that have fungal acne. When you deal with fungal acne, you're dealing with yeast rather than acne bacteria. That's why regular acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid will have little efficacy in the treatment of fungal acne. Compared to cleansers that contain standard acne treatment, dandruff shampoos are a more ideal choice, explains Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, to Allure

Dandruff shampoos obstruct the cell membrane of the fungus and prevent it from growing and reproducing. A regular body or facial rinse with dandruff shampoo, say two to three times per week, can help you combat the flares. After dabbing one or two squirts of shampoo onto the affected skin, let the shampoo sit for one minute before washing it off. Once the acne spots clear up, you might want to cut back to as little as once a week.

How to prevent fungal acne

While fungal acne cannot be totally avoided, there are things you may do to lessen the chances of a breakout. When your skin is developing fungal acne, keep your hands off tight and sweaty clothing made from synthetic fabrics until your breakout clears up. After a sweaty workout or a day out wearing sunscreen and lotion, get a speedy shower to rinse off dirt and oil from your body. Excessive production of sebum in the body or oily skin puts you at a higher risk of fungal acne. Oral contraceptives, which shoot up the estrogen content in the body and condition skin sebum production, also make your body vulnerable to yeast overgrowth and fungal acne. At the same time, switch to a more balanced diet. Since sugary carbohydrates are fungi's favorite food, balance your diet with vegetables, fruits, and proteins, Healthline advises. 

If you have fungal acne, a weekly rinse with dandruff shampoo might alleviate the symptoms and prevent further infection. However, to be certain that what you have is fungal acne and not regular acne, speak to your dermatologist for a precise diagnosis. They can also offer you a more detailed prescription for what oral medicine to take and how much dandruff shampoo to use each week to get rid of fungal acne fast and effectively.