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What is Acne Conglobata?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Acne conglobata is one of the most severe forms of acne that primarily afflicts males between the ages of 18 and 30. Individuals frequently experience large, painful cysts on their faces, necks, shoulders, and backs that result in deep, irreversible skin tissue scarring. The exact causes of acne conglobata are unknown, though medical researchers believe that the condition is strongly linked with genetic tendencies and hormonal imbalances. An individual who believes he or she has acne conglobata should seek the guidance of a licensed dermatologist, who can diagnose the condition and create a long-term treatment plan to reduce symptoms.

Ongoing clinical research suggests that most individuals who suffer from acne conglobata inherit it from their parents, even if a person's mother and father have never shown any physical signs of the condition. Researchers believe that high levels of testosterone and androgen contribute to the condition in young men. In addition, many studies have linked anabolic steroid abuse to the development of severe acne. Regardless of the cause, the emergence patterns and physical symptoms of acne conglobata in most patients are very similar.

Cysts and nodules under the skin develop because of an overproduction of oils from the sebaceous glands. Often, cysts erupt as painful, oozing lesions on the surface of the skin that can cause disfigurement and scarring. Severe skin inflammation, swelling, pain, and sensitivity are the most common physical symptoms of the disorder. A sufferer may experience significant psychological symptoms as well, such as depression, anxiety, and self-consciousness due to prevalent, disfiguring scars.

Doctors commonly prescribe antibiotic medications and topical creams as initial treatments of acne conglobata, though the condition usually requires stronger medications and specialized therapy techniques. Many dermatologists prescribe a high-strength oral medication known as isotretinoin, or Accutane®, which prevents the sebaceous glands from producing excess oils. Additionally, ongoing treatment sessions with light and laser therapy have proven effective in clinical trials to reduce the size of nodules and lessen the appearance of scars. Some individuals choose to undergo surgery to remove large cysts and graft healthy skin on damaged areas. With immediate treatment, many people are able to find significant relief from their symptoms and improvements in their physical appearance.

It is not always possible to prevent acne conglobata, though individuals can often reduce the likelihood of widespread nodules and scarring. People who are prone to the condition because of family histories or recurrent acne problems can often slow the progression of symptoms by bathing regularly and using over-the-counter topical creams. It is also strongly recommended that acne-prone individuals schedule regular checkups with dermatologists to monitor their conditions and stop acne problems before they start.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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