Is it safe to put anti-fungal cream on your face?

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I have many infected hair follicles on my face or folliculitis, I think that’s how you spell it. One of the possible cures is to use antifungal cream/shampoo. One such product is Lamisol which is used to treat athletes foot/fungus is that safe to put on my face?

  1. Lenore added:

    I don’t really know about Lamisol or about using anti-fungal cream for folliculitis. I would suggest that you look on the package for a website for the company that makes Lamisol and then e-mail or call them about it. Are you sure that the infection is a fungal infection though and not a bacterial one? Have you seen a doctor about it? I just don’t know about this subject myself. Here is an article from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website on the subject:

    DrWeil.com

    Question:

    I have been plagued with what my dermatologist refers to as folliculitis, primarily on my scalp, for about five years, and nothing he has prescribed has helped. Do you have any recommendations?

    Answer:

    Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles, those tiny pits in the skin from which hair grows. Usually, the inflammation is due to infection with staphylococcus bacteria or a fungus. It isn’t unusual for folliculitis to occur on the scalp, and it also can develop on the arms, in the armpits, or on the legs.

    Chronic skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis can put you at risk for folliculitis as can diabetes, tight clothing, living in unsanitary conditions, heat and humidity, and staph infections in the nasal passages. There’s also a more severe form of folliculitis that comes from using hot tubs that haven’t been properly disinfected. Known as “hot tub folliculitis,” this condition can be painful and resistant to treatment.

    Common folliculitis is treated with over-the-counter antibiotic ointments applied to the affected area, but if the area is large, you may need an oral antibiotic.

    Shampooing frequently is also recommended in order to prevent recurrences of scalp folliculitis. I would suggest using a shampoo made with tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil, a great germicidal and antibacterial agent (also used to treat fungal infections of the skin).

    In addition, I recommend supplementing your diet with GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid hard to come by in the diet that promotes healthy growth of skin, hair and nails. The best sources are evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil, taken in capsules as dietary supplements. You can increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, fortified eggs, freshly ground flax seeds or walnuts. You can also take a fish oil supplement.

    You might also try hypnotherapy, which can be very effective for skin conditions. Look for a hypnotherapist with experience in dealing with these disorders. You can get a referral from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis at http://www.asch.net.

    Andrew Weil, M.D.

    Copyright 2004 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
    All material provided on the DrWeil.com Web site is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

    I would like to comment, though, that in regard to primrose oil, I found that taking it alone caused my skin to break out really badly. It needs to be balanced off with other oils that contain more Omega-3′s like flax seed oil. I am currently taking a mixture of flax seed oil and black current oil. Actually, my face has been breaking out somewhat lately, so I’m not so sure about this oil. I was taking a mixture of flax seed oil with borage oil before, and my skin was doing better. I’m taking and using so many different things, though, that it’s hard to say what’s doing what. I used to take Udo’s oil which seemed to be a good oil (it’s a blend of like 9 different oils). You can read about various Omega oils at http://www.udoerasmus.com (or at least find out about his books on the subject). I also grind up flax seeds fresh daily and put them into a smooth. They have a nice nutty flavor. They really help with various other body problems, like joint pains, dry skin and hair, etc. I think flax seeds are an incredibly therapeutic food. Dr. Weil says they have to be ground fresh daily though to have the maximum effect.

  2. elsie added:

    I’d ask the pharmacist…thats part of their job!

  3. roxtar added:

    BGJ, it seems like folliculitis may be caused by other bacterial (such as staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as “staph”) or fungal infection. This may be tough to sort out. You may want to see a dermatologist to help figure things out. However, as the skin is not a sterile area to start and contains normal bacterial flora, eg: staphylococcus epidermididis , it may be difficult to isolate the particular organism that is causing your problem. Taking cultures is therefore not the norm, because many organisms will grow normally (even if you cultured someone w/out folliculitis), making it nearly impossible to identify the culprit.

    As for what you could do to help the situation, … well, I saw your original post in May, along w/ the picture. So, I know you are a guy and you shave, and that the original problem seems to have been precipitated by plucking facial hairs. Unfortunately, for those prone to it, removing hairs from the root (namely by tweezing or waxing a given area) can be a major aggravator. This is probably even more true of removal of coarser and/or more wiry hairs (eg: men’s beard; women’s bikini line). The same types of hair may get buried under the skin w/ the overlying follicle becoming plugged and often infected (similar process for developing ingrown hairs). Obviously, you’re still suffering w/ it a month later. I’m a girl myself and have never had your situation, but I think I can give you some advice. See if the following suggestions help. You may already do a lot of these, but I thought I’d include all I could think of, in case a particular item is more helpful to you.

    Here’s what you do:

    1. Mechanical issue: The process of shaving, the minor nicks/cuts, and even the irrititation at a microscopic level (like a nick/cut, but not necessarily visible) will likely aggravate the folliculitis. Minimize this:

    a. Try if you can and as often as you can to avoid shaving. If you have to for work/school/general presentability (!), then take a break on weekends or whenever you don’t have to be as presentable. :wink

    b. Try as often as you can to shave in the shower or right after a hot shower. The steam and heat will open up the pores, allowing the hairs to be more easily shaved and causing the least irritation to the skin from the razor. If a shower is not possible prior to a given shave, take a washcloth, soak in hot, though comfortable to touch, water and apply to your beard area for several minutes prior to shaving. If the cloth cools off, keep repeating the process until you think the warmth may have been effective (much like the shower).

    c. Shave w/ the grain, the direction of growth. This will also minimize irritation.

    d. Avoid a very close shave. Assuming you use razors for shaving, all these newer more advanced razors w/ triple and now quadruple blades may not be the best choice for you now, given your current situation. Use a single or twin blade, and maybe don’t be as quick to change blades (obviously don’t let the blade get too dull either, as this might also injure the skin; but if you’re the kind of guy who loves a close shave and is quick to the draw as far as changing blades, ease off a bit for now, given your current condition). Super-close shaves result in the hair being cut just below the skin surface (think of the razor ads that show the hair being lifted by the 1st blade, then shaved by the next, then the hair “falls” under the skin surface level). So, it literally has to pierce through the follicle and skin surface level again as it grows out, again a microscopic level injury, ideal growth medium for a new or persistent infection. O.K. So what if you have a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow? It’s not the end of the world, right? Especially, if it will help clear your skin.

    2. Infection/inflammation issue: this is obviously very important to address.

    a. If you go to a dermotologist, s/he may very likely prescribe you oral and/or topical antibiotics (abx) to treat bacterial infection (infxn). There may be some argument in this forum and elsewhere about whether or not abx are the best idea. I myself avoided taking them for my most recent bout of acne (which lasted 9 months w/ 1st your run of the mill zits progressing to cysts and pustules) and tried many other remedies prior to caving to using abx. But they did work extremely well for me. However, the question becomes if this could potentially weaken your immune system, create resistant bacterial strains, and result in some other future infection (either on your face or elsewhere) occurring which may need different or more powerful abx for trtmnt. There is obviously a place for the use of abx in this world. I think if you try your best to treat it otherwise and it persists, these may be a consideration. Ultimately, you also don’t want the problem to progress to a point where you get scarring. If you do wind up taking oral abx, make sure you follow the prescription and finish the course to minimize devlpmnt of resistant bacteria.

    There is the additional concern that some types of folliculitis may be caused by fungi. In this case, you often still have an accompanying bacterial infxn (called supra-infection b/c it superimposes the fungal infxn), so you will likely get some help w/ abx, but these do not treat fungi so they would not get at the root of the problem. Antifungals as oral agents are very harsh for the body w/ many side effects (even much harsher than antibiotics) & some of them require careful monitoring of bloodwork to look for potential serious side effects. They should not be taken lightly. Topical antifungals are not nearly as dangerous, but I don’t know much about them in the setting of use for folliculitis.

    b. Apply topical natural antiseptics.
    Antiseptic is a more general term referring to how the material may ward off bacteria, viruses, and fungi, killing different classes of microorganisms. Each antiseptic, much like each antibiotic, has its own properties and is best suited for the trtmnt of certain microorganisms.
    Dr. Andrew Weil’s website noted by Lenore recommends tea tree oil. I’m sure this will be quite helpful. Look for a high quality, high grade one. If you get 100% pure oil, you can apply this directly (some pure oils need to be diluted; tea tree apparently not, and can be applied “neat”, which is the term used for this). Some even come suspended in aloe vera gel which is also an antiseptic (I have a lovely one from JASON brand which also has witch hazel, marigold, chamomile, etc.); this would be very soothing for your skin.

    I haven’t tried this myself, but there was a whole long thread about treating cystic acne where Maya combined manuka oil (from the manuka tree) w/ emu oil (from the bird) and got very good results for cystic acne. I don’t know you’d need the emu oil (she used it for its transdermal carrier properties, to penetrate the skin well), but the manuka oil, based on its properties may be very helpful for you. The manuka tree is native to New Zealand, is in the tea tree family, as I understand it, but seems to be much more potent and has a somewhat diff’t profile of organisms it kills (I got this info from a supplier’s website: http://www.manukaoil.com which describes the product, its uses, its effectiveness, etc.). I’ve looked for it locally in my city in Canada & not found any, though manuka honey (derived by bees from this tree, w/ many of the same antiseptic properties, I understand, but not as potent; also prob. doesn’t have the same profile of skin penetration, given diff’t constituents of honey vs. oil) is fairly easy to find in good health food stores & some high end vitamin shops. I’d opt for the oil though. I think you can order from that same website.

    I wonder if Maya could comment more on manuka oil. I think this might be a great option for you, especially in light of the profile of microorganisms it kills, specifically the particular types of bacteria and fungi (it kills some viruses as well; but for your case, the others are more impt).

    Listen, there’s a lot more I could say about addressing the immune system, namely nutritionally, like Lenore made reference to in above post regarding taking the proper essential fatty acids. Zinc may also be an important supplement for you.

    But I’ll leave it here, given the length of the post :crazyeyes and see if you read this and find it helpful. If you want more, please post and I’ll add more. Lenore’s tips are great. It would be nice to hear from Maya as well; she seems very knowledgable in these issues (and she can knock me again about taking abx … it’s O.K. … I agree w/ her about these and I appreciate all her advice, so <Roxy dodges another knock from Maya about antibiotics> … Heheeeheee.. :smile ).

    Cheers and good luck. Keep us posted. Let me know if you’d like to hear more.
    Roxy.

  4. BGJ added:

    I went to see a dermatologist and he prescribed me on some anti biotics which cleared it up right away. What annoys me is that now I’m lead to believe that all this time what I thought for about two years wa ingrown hairs was just a hair follicle infection that kept coming back.

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