Acne fulminans: explosive systemic form of acne

R Zaba, Ra Schwartz, S Jarmuda, M Czarnecka-Operacz, W Silny
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV 2011, 25 (5): 501-7
Acne fulminans (AF) is a rare severe form of acne vulgaris associated with systemic symptoms. It primarily affects male adolescents. Although the aetiology of AF remains unknown, many theories have been advanced to explain it. There have been reported associations with increased androgens, autoimmune complex disease and genetic pre-disposition. The disease is destructive, with the acute onset of painful, ulcerative nodules on the face, chest and back. The associated systemic manifestations such as fever, weight loss and musculoskeletal pain are usually present at the onset. The patients are febrile, with leucocytosis and an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate. They may require several weeks of hospitalization. The treatment of AF has been challenging; the response to traditional acne therapies is poor. The recommended treatment is aggressive and consists of a combination of oral steroids and isotretinoin. To avoid the relapses, duration of such treatment should not be less than 3-5 months. Although the prognosis for patients treated appropriately is good, these acute inflammatory nodules often heal with residual scarring.

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