The Prevalence of Malassezia Folliculitis in Patients with Papulopustular/Comedonal Acne, and Their Response to Antifungal Treatment

Skinmed. 2018 Apr 1;16(2):99-104. eCollection 2018.


Because Malassezia folliculitis (MF) may clinically mimic acne vulgaris (AV), patients usually receive unnecessary and prolonged antibiotic treatment. We aimed to determine the prevalence of MF among patients with AV, and to evaluate its response to antifungal treatment. A total of 217 patients with AV underwent cytologic examination for the presence of Malassezia yeasts. Samples were obtained from lesional and nonlesional skin and stained with May-Grünwald-Giemsa. MF was diagnosed if there were more than six spores in one microscopic field (at ×400 magnification). A modified "lesion-counting" method was used to assess the clinical severity of acne. Treatment included oral itraconazole (2×100 mg daily) and topical ketaconazole for 4 weeks. Fifty-five (25.3%) patients were diagnosed with MF; of these, 38 (69.1%) completed the antifungal treatment. The lesions decreased by 50% or more in 26 (68.4%) of the patients who completed the antifungal treatment, which reduced the number of closed comedones/comedolike or molluscoid papules and inflammatory papules. The average number of spores in lesional samples was significantly decreased after treatment (P=<.0005). We observed that MF can present with AV-like lesions, or the two diseases may coexist. Cytology is helpful for making the correct diagnosis and providing proper management of MF.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatomycoses / diagnosis
  • Dermatomycoses / drug therapy
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Folliculitis / drug therapy
  • Folliculitis / microbiology*
  • Folliculitis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Malassezia / drug effects
  • Malassezia / isolation & purification*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Turkey
  • Young Adult


  • Antifungal Agents