Fulminant Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Fulminant Acne

Acne is a most common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. One particular severe form of acne is fulminant acne which can cause significant physical and psychological distress.

The condition starts quickly and is severe, it can cause scarring if not treated promptly. It’s important to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment, as early action can greatly improve the outcome.

In this article, we will explore the world of Fulminant Acne, discussing its causes and symptoms and illuminating potential treatment strategies. Learn how to identify this severe skin condition early and the effective therapeutic measures to prevent lasting scars.

Fulminant Acne is also known as Acne Fulminans. It is a rare and severe form of acne that often manifests suddenly.

It is often characterized by an abrupt onset of painful nodules and ulcerations on the chest and back, which can be quite painful. These ulcers may develop bleeding crusts on the upper trunk, while severe acne scarring is also a common feature.

Other symptoms include fluctuating fever, painful joints (including the sacroiliac joints, ankles, shoulders, and knees), malaise (a general feeling of being unwell), loss of appetite, weight loss, and enlarged liver and spleen.

Fulminant Acne can have a big impact on your quality of life. It can be really painful and may leave severe scars. So, it’s important to get medical help quickly.

Symptoms of Fulminant Acne

The symptoms of Fulminant Acne can be quite severe and distressing. They can appear suddenly and need urgent medical attention. If you think you might have Fulminant Acne, watch out for these symptoms:

  1. Rapid Onset: Fulminant Acne usually starts suddenly, without warning.
  2. Painful Nodules and Ulcers: The development of painful nodules and ulcers on the chest and back is a common symptom.
  3. Bleeding Crusts: The nodules and ulcers may develop bleeding crusts, especially on the upper trunk.
  4. Severe Acne Scarring: Acne scars are prevalent in people with Fulminant Acne.
  5. Fluctuating Fever: A fever that comes and goes is a common symptom of this condition.
  6. Joint Pain: Pain may be felt in various joints, including the sacroiliac joints, ankles, shoulders, and knees.
  7. Malaise: This term refers to a general feeling of discomfort or illness.
  8. Loss of Appetite & Weight Loss: Sufferers often experience a decrease in appetite and unexpected weight loss.
  9. Enlarged Liver and Spleen: In severe cases, the liver and spleen may become enlarged.

Remember, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help quickly to prevent further complications and scarring.

Causes of Fulminant Acne

The exact reasons behind Fulminant Acne are not fully known yet, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors like hormonal changes, genetic tendencies, and problems with the immune system’s response.

Hormonal Changes: Similar to regular acne, Fulminant Acne can be caused by changes in hormones. During puberty, when hormones are changing, the sebaceous glands can produce more oil, which can result in acne.

Genetic Predisposition: There seems to be a genetic component to Fulminant Acne, as it often appears in multiple members of the same family. A study published in the NIH found a significant correlation between acne severity and a family history of acne.

Immune System Dysregulation: Some researchers believe that Fulminant Acne could be the result of an overactive immune response to acne bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria is found on the skin of most people. However, in individuals with Fulminant Acne, the immune system can overreact, causing inflammation and severe acne.

It is essential to understand that while these factors might increase the risk of developing Fulminant Acne, they do not guarantee its incidence. So, it’s really important to talk to a skin doctor or healthcare provider to get the right diagnosis and treatment plan.

Also Read: Is Going Vegan Ruined my Skin?

How do I prevent fulminant acne?

fulminant acne

Here are some simple steps that can help keep your skin healthy and potentially reduce the risk of severe acne:

  1. Good Skincare Routine: Maintain a regular skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection. Avoid harsh scrubs and over-washing, as they can irritate the skin and make acne worse.
  2. Healthy Diet: While diet does not cause acne, certain foods can trigger or exacerbate it. Limit intake of dairy products and foods high in processed sugars, which can increase inflammation and promote acne.
  3. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity helps reduce stress and improve overall body health, both of which can have a positive impact on the skin.
  4. Avoid Picking or Squeezing: Avoid picking or squeezing acne as it can lead to scarring and further infection.
  5. Regular Check-ups: Regular visits to your dermatologist can help detect any early signs of Fulminant Acne.

Risk Factors for Acne Fulminans

Anyone can get really bad acne, but certain things can make it more likely to happen.

Age and Gender: Fulminant Acne usually affects adolescent boys in their mid-teens, although it can also occur in females and adults.

Family History: As with many medical conditions, those with a family history of severe acne may have a heightened risk of developing the condition.

Hormonal Fluctuations: Teenagers and women may be especially susceptible due to hormonal changes during puberty and menstrual cycles respectively.

Pre-existing Skin Conditions: People with a history of inflammatory skin conditions, like acne conglobata or acne cysts, may be at a higher risk.

Medication Side Effects: Certain medications, including anabolic steroids and drugs that affect hormonal balance, can trigger Fulminant Acne.

Remember, early detection and treatment can significantly improve the outcome and help to minimize the impact of Fulminant Acne on your life.

Also Read: How to Understanding and Managing Common Skin Diseases

Treatment Options for Fulminant Acne

Here are some treatment options that may be recommended by your dermatologist or healthcare provider for Fulminant Acne:

  1. Oral Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics are often the first line of treatment for Fulminant Acne to control the underlying bacterial infection. Medications like Tetracycline or Erythromycin are commonly prescribed.
  2. Corticosteroids: To control inflammation and prevent the formation of acne nodules and abscesses, doctors may prescribe oral corticosteroids like Prednisolone.
  3. Isotretinoin (Roaccutane): For severe cases, a retinoid medication called Isotretinoin can be prescribed. This medicine reduces the size and secretion of the sebaceous glands, preventing the formation of acne. (I personally use this and this works great for my acne)
  4. Surgery: In extreme cases where the acne has caused significant scarring, surgical procedures may be necessary to improve the appearance of the skin.
  5. Topical Treatments: These may include medicated creams or gels that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to help unclog pores and reduce bacteria.

Regular follow-ups with your doctor are crucial during treatment to assess improvement, manage side effects, and adjust treatment plans as needed.


In conclusion, Fulminant Acne is a severe and potentially debilitating skin condition that warrants immediate medical attention. The exact cause is still under investigation; however, a combination of hormonal changes, genetic predisposition, and immune system dysregulation seems to play significant roles.

Treatment options range from oral antibiotics and corticosteroids to more invasive methods like surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Early understanding and management of this condition can greatly improve the prognosis and quality of life for those affected.


What is the difference between acne vulgaris and acne fulminans?

Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne that includes whiteheads, blackheads, and typical pimples. It’s often mild to moderate and can be managed with OTC treatments and good skincare routines. In contrast, acne fulminans is a severe form of acne characterized by painful nodules, ulcers, and abscesses, often accompanied by systemic symptoms like fever.

How are acne fulminans diagnosed?

Acne fulminans is diagnosed through a combination of physical examination and patient history. The dermatologist will look for characteristic signs like painful nodules, abscesses, and ulcers on the skin. Plus, they will consider systemic symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and general malaise. In some instances, they may take a skin biopsy to rule out other conditions or conduct blood tests to check for systemic inflammation.

What is the pathogenesis of acne fulminans?

The exact cause of acne fulminans is complex and not fully understood. It is thought to involve a triad of severe inflammatory response, hormonal changes, and genetic predisposition. This results in overactive sebaceous glands increased keratin production, and bacterial proliferation, which causes severe inflammation and the formation of painful nodules and abscesses on the skin.


The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

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