I've had acne symptoms since I was 18 and nothing ever worked successfully to manage the symptoms. I would also experience a feeling of itchiness with my acne and doctors could not figure out why. Like many others, I turned to the internet to find out more about my symptoms, and why acne medications and products never worked for me. Your acne may not actually be due to Acne Vulgaris.
I came across a condition called Pityrospirum Folliculitis (Malassezia). This condition produces acne-like symptoms, but there is also an itchy sensation. The acne-looking breakouts happen in a pattern, usually on the back, upper arms, and sometimes on the neck. Pimples can also appear on the scalp. Dandruff can be associated with those who have this condition.
The red, itchy bumps and acne are caused by a yeast on our skin that normally lives there. When there is an overgrowth, the hair follicles on our bodies become plugged in combination with oil/sweat/environmental influences.
Doctors, dermatologists to be exact, often cannot distinguish between acne vulgaris and pityrospirum folliculitis. They will likely not diagnose you with this type of folliculitis, and many consider acne concerns to be a beauty issue. However, anyone who has suffered from acne knows the emotional toll it takes on us. The emotional, social, and physical impacts acne has on people should make this concern a priority for doctors.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease and treat symptoms. If you've ever noticed a severe feeling of itchiness with your acne, and acne products haven't worked for you, I would recommend doing the following:
1. Rule out acne by using a product, medication, or regimen for at least 6 months.
People often become frustrated when their acne medication or face wash doesn't work in 2-3 months. You need to allow enough time for the product to work. Acne products will typically contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
2. If acne products don't work, try a dandruff shampoo 2-3 times a week on your hair and back.
This has worked for me to reduce the itchy sensation on my body. I've tried Denorex and Selsun Blue and both have worked. Dandruff shampoos are also used for psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis (severe, dry, flaky skin and scalp).
Dandruff shampoos typically contain either selenium sulfide, coal tar, or zinc pyrithione.
3. If these two steps don't work, try a shampoo with ketoconazole.
Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that helps treat dandruff and pityrospirum folliculitis. You can buy ketoconazole over the counter as a shampoo called Nizoral. However, as of March 2013, the Johnson & Johnson company has decreased/stopped production until the government approves them for a new operating plant.
Ketoconazole shampoo can also be prescribed by your doctor. There is also Ketoconazole cream if you only need to treat your back or body. This ingredient is also used to fight premature hair loss, which is why you will see this product in hair growth products for men.
4. Rinse your body with cool or cold water after a shower, and dry off with a fan or hair dryer on a cool setting.
Dry off your skin properly after a shower. Damp skin can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and this can happen if you get dressed immediately after taking a shower. The cold water helps to control the environment for the yeast, which tends to thrive in hot, humid conditions.
Take a shower immediately after exercising or after moderate sweating. The yeast will also thrive in this condition.
If you experience severe itching, apply dandruff shampoo to your body and leave it on for 3-5 minutes. If the smells of dandruff shampoo are too strong, you can use Head and Shoulders, which has a more subtle scent.
If dandruff shampoo or Ketoconazole shampoo works for you, you should see your acne-like bumps disappear within 2-3 weeks. If you have scarring, this will take at least 1-3 months to heal.
Many people have both acne (acne vulgaris) and pityrospirum folliculitis. If you find that acne products work on your face, but only the dandruff shampoos work on your body, then treat both at the same time with the different products.
I'm not a doctor and this information is based on my personal experience, but I hope these tips work for you.