What Causes a Fungal Rash on Your Face?

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The term microbiome refers to the billions of bacteria living in and on your body that help keep you healthy. The gut microbiome is one type, and your skin is home to a microbiome as well. This is known as your skin flora, a collection of organisms like bacteria and fungi.

Your skin microbiome includes a yeast called Candida. This fungal organism lives on the skin of healthy individuals. But when its growth becomes too rapid, it can cause a fungal rash on the face. 

A skin infection caused by Candida is known as candidiasis or a yeast infection. Candidiasis most often occurs in moist areas of the body, like the groin or armpits. But this fungal rash can also show up on the face, including the forehead, nose, and corners of the mouth.

People with other skin conditions like psoriasis are at higher risk of having a fungal infection on their faces. Sometimes the infection can be mistaken for psoriasis.

Here’s what you should know about fungal rashes on the face, psoriasis, and the connection between the two conditions. 

Checking a rash on the face

PixelsEffect / iStock / Getty Images

Symptoms and Types of Infection

Candidiasis can occur anywhere in the body, but the fungus grows most plentifully in moist areas. However, it can also occur on the face, particularly in individuals with other underlying health conditions.

The symptoms of a yeast rash on the face vary depending on how and where the rash presents, but there are some common ones, including:

  • A bright red rash
  • Burning or itching sensation
  • Pus, especially around the edge of the rash

Candida on the face usually presents around the mouth (perlèche) or inside the mouth (thrush). This is distinct from seborrheic dermatitis, which is an inflammatory skin condition that may be associated with a reaction to another type of yeast, Malassezia.

Perlèche

Perlèche is a yeast infection around the mouth, particularly at the corners of the mouth, which become cracked. People with dentures, thumb-suckers, and those who lick their lips habitually are at greatest risk of developing perlèche.

Candidal infections on the face are relatively rare other than perlèche.

Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis

Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is a rare condition that occurs most often on the forehead and nose. The skin appears red, thick, and crusted in a way that often resembles psoriasis. This type of fungal infection can also lead to pus-filled areas.

When to See a Doctor

Someone who has a Candida rash on their face is more likely to have a yeast infection elsewhere, such as a vaginal yeast infection or thrush in their mouth. If you have other yeast infection symptoms and have a rash on your face, you should talk to your doctor about whether it is a fungal rash.

Causes

A fungal skin infection occurs when the body’s natural amount of Candida becomes too plentiful. This can happen when the immune system or the microbiome becomes unbalanced, often due to medication use or an underlying medical condition.

Risk factors for Candida infection include:

  • Having diabetes
  • Being obese, especially with skin folds that rub together
  • Having a suppressed immune system
  • Having human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Having other skin conditions, including psoriasis or intertrigo
  • Taking antibiotics or steroids
  • Undergoing chemotherapy
  • Being in a warm, moist environment, or wearing tight-fitting or wet clothes
  • Being pregnant

When It’s Not Fungus

Candida infection is not the only cause of facial rashes. It can be difficult to determine whether your rash is caused by Candida, especially if you’re one of the people with other skin conditions like psoriasis that are at higher risk for Candida infection. 

Candida rashes are often characterized by their bright red color, whereas psoriasis has silvery scales. Candida rashes may have pus as well. However, some types of Candida rash, especially chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis, can look very similar to a psoriasis outbreak.

If you have a rash on your face, it’s always best to visit your primary care physician or dermatologist to determine the cause of your rash and get appropriate treatment. 

Diagnosis

When you visit a doctor for a facial rash, they’ll examine the rash, talk about your history and other symptoms, and possibly take a swab from the rash to test for fungus or bacteria. Using this, they can determine whether your rash is caused by Candida or if it’s possibly another skin condition like psoriasis.

Treatment

Once you have a diagnosis, treatment for Candida rash is straightforward. Fungal skin infections caused by Candida are treated using an oral antifungal medication or a topical antifungal cream applied directly to the rash.

If you have chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis, you may need to take an oral antifungal medication like fluconazole long-term. You will also be counseled to keep the area well ventilated and dry, which is normally not a challenge when the rash is on the face.

Prevention

If you are prone to fungal infections or have a history of Candida rash, you can take steps to prevent future infections by keeping your microbiome healthy. You can do this by:

  • Eating a gut-healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Consuming foods and drinks like yogurt and fermented foods that contain live cultures
  • Avoiding any unnecessary antibiotic use
  • Talking to your doctor about taking a probiotic if you must take antibiotics or steroids
  • Practicing good hygiene and keeping your skin dry and clean

For people with psoriasis, there appears to be a connection between psoriasis outbreaks and Candida infections. Avoiding your psoriasis triggers—like stress and skin injuries—can help reduce the likelihood of fungal skin rashes.

Summary

Candida yeast is a normal part of the skin microbiome, but an overgrowth can result in a fungal skin infection. On the face, this can be seen in the corners of the mouth (perlèche) or on the nose and forehead (chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis). It might be mistaken for psoriasis.

Diagnosis is done by examination and sometimes testing for bacteria or fungi. Treatment is with topical creams or oral medication.

A Word From Verywell

Any rash on your face can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It can be especially frustrating if you’re already dealing with a chronic skin condition like psoriasis. However, it’s important to remember that a fungal infection on the face is easily treated using antifungal medicine or skin cream.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you have a rash on your face. They’ll be able to help you better understand what’s going on, and connect you with the right treatment to make you feel and look better soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best antifungal cream to use on a face rash?

If you have a fungal rash on your face, your doctor may prescribe a prescription antifungal cream. However, you’ll likely also need oral antifungal medications, so it’s best to visit your doctor before trying over-the-counter creams. 

What does psoriasis look like?

Psoriasis is characterized by a pink or red area that is raised up, compared to the surrounding skin. On top of this area, known as a plaque, are dry skin scales that have a silvery appearance. If you’re unsure about whether you have psoriasis, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist. 

What happens if you leave a yeast infection on your face untreated?

Yeast infections on the face are often symptoms of a larger yeast imbalance throughout the body. If you leave your facial infection untreated, you might notice other yeast infections springing up in your mouth, nails, genitalia, or skin folds.

Since treatment for fungal face infections is straightforward, it’s best to talk to your doctor if you think you have a yeast infection on your face.

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Article Sources
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