Acne fulminans is an extreme form of acne, which is also known as acute febrile ulcerative acne. It usually occurs after an attempted, but unsuccessful, treatment of acne conglobata. Acne conglobata is a form of ance that includes comedones, abscesses and draining of the sinus tracts. However, acne conglobata is not always the trigger for Acne fulminans; it can be caused by steroid use, or just occur spontaneously with no apparent cause. Acne fulminans is related to an overproduction of testosterone, and is something that occurs mostly in boys over the age of thirteen, and can affect men until the age of forty.
What are the symptoms of acne fulminans?
The symptoms of acne conglobata will show up abruptly, with little to no warning. These symptoms, in addition to comedones and abscesses, include nodules and ulcerating acne. This acne is not limited to the face and back, as most acne is, it can develop all over the body. If left untreated, these can become oozing and open sores, which are highly susceptible to infection.
Acne fulminans also causes inflammation and pain in joints, and shortly after causes lymph nodes to swell and become inflexible. The swelling and rigidity of the lymph nodes can lead to problems breathing, which can also eventually have a detrimental effect on internal organs. As symptoms progress, people with acne fulminans will usually have a fever and will lose their appetite, which leads to excessive weight loss and can cause muscles to atrophy. It is common to need to be hospitalized to treat acne fulminans, usually for around two to four weeks. Acne fulminans, especially if left untreated, can cause issues with the digestive system and bone structure.
What causes Acne fulminans?
Doctors are not sure what causes Acne fulminans; however, it is thought that it is caused by elevated levels of testosterone, which causes a rise in the oil production in skin and the bacteria that cause acne. Most cases of Acne fulminans occur after being treated with treitonin in an attempt to cure acne conglobata, as mentioned above. Steroid abuse has also been linked to the development of Acne fulminans, but sometimes there is not a clear cause of its onset.
How is Acne fulminans treated?
As soon as symptoms occur, treatment should be sought immediately. Unfortunately most people ignore symptoms until hospitalization is required. This is a very serious medical condition, and the effects of it if left untreated can be incredibly debilitating. Topical acne medications have no effect, and treatment is usually a combination of medications; steroids are used to help limit swelling of the acne and sores, aspirin to control pain and also assist with limiting inflammation, and high doses of antibiotics to help limit the spread of acne fulminans while also helping to keep sores from becoming infected. Additionally, Isotretinoin, an incredibly strong acne medication, may be used to help speed recovery.
Acne fulminans is a severe and debilitating condition, and should be taken seriously. If you see any of these symptoms, see a dermatologist or doctor immediately to help prevent escalation of symptoms and side effects.