Malassezia Globosa: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

malassezia globosa skin

The Malassezia globosa is a yeast that belongs to the kingdom of the fungi, specifically to the genus Malassezia of which experts currently know ten different species.

Malassezia is present in the skin of all humans and many animals. Experts estimated that only in the head of a person there is an average of 8 million

This fungus feeds on the fat secreted by the sebaceous glands, so it usually inhabits areas of the skin that have a higher number of these glands such as the scalp, face and to a lesser extent the upper thorax.

Recently the fungus called Malassezia globosa has been shown to be the primary cause of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

However, some believe that the fungus Malassezia Restricta is also involved in the formation of dandruff although to a lesser extent.

This discovery is not something new since some already knew about it since in 1904 R. Sabouraud discovered that the fungus that he called “Pityrosporum malassez” was the cause of dandruff.

Although later it was shown that this organism was the same that was discovered earlier in the nineteenth century by Louis C. Malassez whom he called Malassezia, which is the name that has finally come down to the present day.

However, with the passage of the type different species belonging to the genus Malassezia were identified (10 at present day).

There was no evidence of which of these organisms specifically caused dandruff and other skin problems such as seborrheic dermatitis

Experts sequenced the genome of the Malassezia globosa in 2007, and they hoped that through its sequencing new elements will be found to combat this fungus that may result in medications to eliminate dandruff.

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Description and Symptoms

Various diseases are related to Malassezia globosa:

Tinea Versicolor (Pityriasis Versicolor) is a disease that shows initially as small pink, off-white, or brownish areas of skin, which tend to amalgamate producing a large-sized rash.

Usually, the disease is seen in the upper body or face. This is a typical disease of hot summers. Symptoms may be absent in winter.

Malassezia Folliculitis (previously known as Pityrosporum Folliculitis) gives rise to pimple-like spots, located in hair follicles on the upper body.

The spots are itchy and may become further inflamed when scratched.

Seborrheic Dermatitis (seborrheic eczema) is a condition that gives pink or reddish spots on the face, scalp or upper body. These rashes tend to give rise to gray, white, or yellow scales.

On the scalp, people often see it as dandruff. However, on some occasions, dandruff may be due to other conditions, such as scalp psoriasis, not associated with Malassezia.

The question as to whether or not Malassezia species cause seborrheic dermatitis is still a matter of scientific debate, although the majority of experts in the field seem are confident that these yeasts are the primary cause.


Malassezia globosa is a type of yeast that occurs naturally in the human body. Typically, it does not harm.

However, along with related species of Malassezia, it sometimes gives rise to several skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, tinea versicolor, and Malassezia folliculitis.

It is not clear why Malassezia globosa sometimes becomes overactive, but oily skin and hot, humid conditions tend to favor its growth.

The related skin diseases tend to be more prevalent in teenagers and young adults.

In the older scientific literature and on some websites, people point to the yeast species Pityrosporum ovale as the cause of these skin diseases.

Pityrosporum ovale is now known as Malassezia furfur. At present, Malassezia globosa is considered to be the primary disease-causing yeast, though other Malassezia species undoubtedly also play a role.

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Lifestyle changes may help. Sufferers should avoid sweating as much as possible; they should shower (with lots of gel) if they do sweat. They should try to avoid tight clothing and artificial fibers.

Weight loss can help if patients are obese. Anti-dandruff shampoos are the usual treatment for scalp seborrheic dermatitis.

Typical ingredients include the synthetic fungicide ketoconazole, salicylic acid (which helps remove dead skin), the antifungal agent selenium sulfide, and zinc pyrithione (another antifungal agent).

These shampoos can also be used on other parts of the body to treat the various Malassezia diseases.

Antifungal creams or gels, such as ketoconazole cream or gel, can be used to treat all the Malassezia diseases. Scientific studies have shown that these can be effective.

Medical experts sometimes prescribe oral fungicides in more severe cases of Malassezia folliculitis and tinea versicolor.

Typical fungicides used are ketoconazole, itraconazole (Sporanox) and fluconazole (Diflucan).

Side-effects can be more severe when fungicides are taken orally, rather than rubbed into the skin. Sufferers from cardiovascular conditions should never use Itraconazole.

Sodium sulfacetamide cream is sometimes used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. These creams sometimes also contain elemental sulfur. Sodium sulfacetamide has both antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Hydrocortisone cream is sometimes used to combat seborrheic dermatitis. This steroid cream should be used with caution, particularly on the face, since it can cause the skin to thin.

Tea tree oil is a traditional herbal treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. There is some scientific support for its use.

Tea tree oil shampoos are commercially available. People should not take the oil orally.

Aloe vera gel is also sometimes applied to the skin to treat seborrheic dermatitis. A scientific trial has confirmed that it is more efficient than a placebo (a dummy treatment).

Although at present it is not possible to eliminate dandruff definitively through any treatment if it is possible to control it entirely with the regular use of anti-dandruff shampoos.

Most anti-dandruff shampoos seek to eliminate the fungus that irritates the skin and thus get the skin back to normal by lowering its regeneration cycle.

Campuses for dandruff usually do not use a single active ingredient, but not a combination of them for greater effectiveness.

The following active principles aim to end the fungus causing dandruff:

Selenium disulfide (Selenium disulfide)

It is also known as selenium sulfide although this would not be a real name since its chemical composition is (SeS2), although the name of selenium (IV) sulfide is also correct.

This is perhaps the most famous anti-dandruff compound known to people thanks to a remarkable anti-dandruff shampoo and its properties, which are meant to be efficient antimycotics.

As other antimycotics, it is also used to treat other skin conditions such as Seborrheic Dermatitis or Seborrhea.

The percentage of this compound that we will find in traditional anti-dandruff shampoos is around 1%, and in the particular preparations that require a medical prescription amounts to 2 or 3%.

Ketoconazole (Ketoconazole)

It is an antifungal or antimycotic compound of the imidazole group. Researchers discovered this substance in the 1980’s and as other fungicides act to prevent a proliferation of various types of fungi.