This condition generally begins between the ages of 18 and 30. It usually persists for a very long time, and often until the patient is around 40 years old. Although it often occurs where there is already an active acne problem, it can also happen to people whose acne has subsided. Although the cause of this type of acne is unknown, it is associated with testosterone and thus appears mainly in men. It can be caused by anabolic steroid abuse and sometimes appears in men after stopping testosterone therapy. It can also happen to someone who has a tumor that is releasing large amounts of androgens, or to people in remission from diseases, such as leukemia. In certain persons, the condition may be triggered by exposure to aromatic hydrocarbons or ingestion of halogens.
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Acne conglobata presents with blackheads appearing around the face, neck, chest, upper arms and buttocks in groups of two or three. Pimples form around the blackheads; they are large and engorged with fluid and may be sensitive to touch. They remain for a while and continue to grow and fill with pus until they eventually rupture. After the lesion has drained, it fills up again. After they rupture, several nodules can fuse together to form larger shapes. The lesions remain for a long time. They form a scab in the center but they continue to spread outwards. When the lesions do eventually heal, they leave scars that can be the usual type of acne scar (atrophic) or a raised bump like those normally left behind by a burn or a cut (keloidal).
The most common treatment is the acne medication isotretinoin. It may be combined with prednisone. Dapsone, which is normally used to treat leprosy, is a riskier medication but is sometimes prescribed in cases where the normal therapy is ineffectual. Antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin may also be prescribed. An option to treat with carbon dioxide laser therapy, followed by topical tretinoin therapy has been described.
- Freedberg, Irwin M.; Eisen, Arthur Z.; Wolff, Klaus; Austen, K. Frank; Goldsmith, Lowell A.; Katz, Stephen I., eds. (2003). Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill. p. 685. ISBN 0-07-138076-0.
- Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. p. 449. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0.
- Acne Conglobata at eMedicine
- Hasegawa T, Matsukura T, Suga Y, Muramatsu S, Mizuno Y, Tsuchihashi H, Haruna K, Ogawa H, Ikeda S (2007). "Case of acne conglobata successfully treated by CO(2) laser combined with topical tretinoin therapy". primary source. J. Dermatol. 34 (8): 583–5. doi:10.1111/j.1346-8138.2007.00337.x. PMID 17683393.
- Acne Conglobata~treatment at eMedicine