Acne Fulminans: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

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What Is Acne Fulminans: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

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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 Conglobata?

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 acne fulminans 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 treatment and removal of acne fulminans. For an accurate diagnosis, the doctor may recommend different types of blood tests as well. If left untreated, acne fulminans can leave behind scars and affect bone health to an extensive level.

Also Read: Safe & Effective Pimple Removal Treatments

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 a case of acne fulminans.

Acne Fulminans Causes

Below are some of the common causes of acne fulminans –

  • Acne conglobate is a condition wherein the nodules and acne cysts start growing together within the deep layers of the skin. When this condition worsens due to various reasons such as its unsuccessful treatment, it can lead to the development of acne fulminans.
  • 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.
  • High level of testosterone is another common cause of acne fulminans.
  • Propionibacteriumacnes is the primary acne-causing bacteria. Acne fulminans can occur when there is an antigenic response by the body towards this bacterium.
  • Anabolic steroids and oral isotretinoin are some other causes of acne fulminans.

Also Read: Main Reasons For Getting Pimples & Primary Affected Areas

Acne Fulminans Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, the clinical features of acne fulminans include 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

Also Read: What Is A Cystic Acne –  Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options?

When To See Dermatologist?

The above skin and systematic symptoms are all signs that indicate that it is time to consult a dermatologist to treat your acne fulminans.

How Is Acne Fulminans Face Diagnosed?

Once you reach out to your dermatologist, they will conduct certain tests to diagnose your acne fulminans. 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.

Also Read: Acne Vulgaris – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Acne Fulminans Treatment

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

  • Medications in the form of oral antibiotics to treat the acne bacterial infections
  • Prescribing pain medications to subdue the joint pain
  • Medications that can amend the immune system. This is known as Immunomodulation therapy.
  • Dermabrasion is a common cosmetic treatment which helps in getting rid of the outer layers of the skin.
  • Laser therapy involving Laser Excision
  • Surgery involving cosmetic restoration
  • Chemical Peeling
  • Punch Excision
  • Microdermabrasion
  • 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 acne fulminans.

Also Read: How To Cure Acne?

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 acne fulminans.

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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