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What Are Causes, Symptoms And Treatments For Acne Fulminans

acne fulminans

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    Right from our teenage years, we are all aware of the various skin conditions that can affect us. Among all those skin conditions, acne is the most common problem which is faced by a majority of us. Now, we all know that acne occurs when dead skin cells and excess oil clog our pores. We have also heard and dealt with acne scarring. But have you heard about acne fulminans, the causes of it and how it can be treated? By the end of this post, you will have a fair idea about all of this and more.

    What Is Acne Fulminan?

    Acne Fulminans is a rare condition in which you would not only notice the regular acne symptoms on your skin, but you will also experience systematic symptoms. It is a severe case of acne which is also known as Acne Maligna, Acute Febrile Ulcerative Acne or Malignant Acne. The individual who is affected by this condition will notice that as their acne becomes worse, it is accompanied by joint pains and fever.

    It requires medical intervention by a general practitioner along with the dermatologist recommended treatments for effective removal. For an accurate diagnosis, the doctor may recommend different types of blood tests. If left untreated, acne fulminans can leave behind scars and affect bone health to an extensive level.

    Must Read: Acne Treatments – Medication, Peel And Extraction

    Who Gets Acne Fulminans?

    Adolescent males who are aged between 15-25 years are the ones who are prone to develop this skin condition. It is very rare for females to develop this condition.

    What Causes Acne Fulminans?

    Below are some of the common causes of acne fulminans –

    1. Acne fulminans is a condition wherein the nodules and cysts start growing together within the deep layers of the skin. When this condition worsens, it can lead to the development of acne fulminans.
    2. Though it hasn’t be proved yet, some researchers are of the opinion that acne fulminans is caused as a reaction to some specific medications, hormones or drugs.
    3. High level of testosterone is another common cause of this condition.
    4. Propionibacteriumacnes is the primary acne-causing bacteria. Acne fulminans can occur when there is an antigenic response by the body towards this bacterium.
    5. Anabolic steroids and oral isotretinoin are some other causes of acne fulminans.

    Must Read: How To Treat Hidradenitis Suppurativa (Acne Inversa)?

    Acne Fulminans Symptoms

    As mentioned earlier, the clinical features of this condition includes both skin as well as systematic symptoms. Some of the skin symptoms that you would notice are –

    • Skin scarring
    • Skin lesions or nodules on the body parts such as back and chest, which are painful and highly inflammatory
    • Bleeding from skin lesions
    • Development of skin ulcers along with pus discharge

    Apart from the above skin signs, acne fulminans are characterized by the below systematic symptoms –

    • Fever
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Joint pains and inflammation in shoulders, knees, and ankle
    • Weakness accompanied by a gradual decline in muscular strength
    • Decrease in weight due to loss of appetite
    • Spleen and liver enlargement

    Must Read: How To Get Rid Of Cystic Acne?

    How Is Acne Fulminans Diagnosed?

    Once you reach out to your dermatologist, they will conduct certain tests to diagnose your condition. The tests may include –

    • Evaluation of your medical history
    • Complete body examination
    • Tests to determine your blood culture and Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    • Biopsy of your skin wherein a small part of your affected skin is sent to the labs where the pathologist will study it definitively under a microscope to arrive at a conclusion.
    • Radiological imaging studies which help in determining if there is any infection in the bones.
    • A differential diagnosis which will help to rule out other skin conditions such as acne conglobate, acneiform eruptions, acne vulgaris, rosacea fulminans, and pyoderma gangrenosum.

    Acne Fulminans Treatment

    The treatment of acne fulminans includes quite a few different methods such as –


    • Oral antibiotics to treat the acne bacterial infections
    • Prescription medications to subdue the joint pain
    • Medications that can amend the immune system.
    • A combination of oral steroids and isotretinoin. The minimum dose of isotretinoin recommended is 120 mg/kg.
    • Infliximab is a monoclonal antibody that can be used for the treatment of this condition.


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    It has been observed that topical creams and gels do not provide any relief, so it is advisable not to use any topical medications to treat this condition.

    Though acne fulminans is not a common skin condition, it is better to stay informed about it so that you can be prepared if you or someone you know gets affected by it.

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    About The Author

    Kushneet Kukreja

    Kushneet Kukreja

    A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.

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