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Informations rosacée fulminante

Fulminant Rosacea: What is this rare and severe form of rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic dermatosis that presents in varying degrees of severity. One of the most severe forms is fulminant rosacea, characterized particularly by the rapid onset of papulopustular lesions. In this article, discover the symptoms, causes, and methods of treating fulminant rosacea.

Published March 26, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

What is fulminant rosacea?

Fulminant rosacea is a rare inflammatory condition of the central part of the face, characterized by the sudden appearance of coalescing erythematous papules, pustules, and deep, painful nodules. Sometimes referred to as facial pyoderma, this severe form of rosacea occurs abruptly without the patients necessarily having a history of acne or vascular rosacea. The term "fulminant" is derived from its rapid onset: this skin disease can develop in two to three weeks.

Between 1916 and 2016, only 135 cases of fulminant rosacea were documented in scientific literature. The average age of the patients was 30 years, with 72% of the cases falling between the ages of 20 and 40. Furthermore, it was reported that 91% of the affected individuals were women. Its rarity, severity, and extremely stigmatizing symptoms make fulminant rosacea a disease with a significant impact on emotional and mental health of patients.

What are the causes of fulminant rosacea?

The etiology of fulminant rosacea is still under study. However, infectious and inflammatory components are strongly suspected. The potentially responsible infectious entities include bacterial folliculitis, cutaneous nocardiosis, deep fungal infection, or atypical mycobacterial infection. Various studies conducted on fulminant rosacea confirm a bacterial infection in 31% of affected patients, due to a variety of microorganisms rather than a single pathogen.

Furthermore, it has been observed that fulminant rosacea often accompanies a dermal inflammatory infiltrate both superficial and deep, composed of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and eosinophils, with a predilection for perifollicular and sebaceous structures. These various inflammatory agents play a crucial role in the immune response and are mobilized when the body needs to defend itself.

Finally, it appears that there is a connection between fulminant rosacea and hormonal fluctuations. Indeed, a few cases have been reported at the beginning of pregnancy, suggesting the triggering role of hormonal factors in predisposed women. In the rare cases reported, skin improvement was rapid within the month following childbirth. A change in oral contraception was also frequently observed in patients, shortly before the onset of fulminant rosacea, which strengthens the hypothesis that hormones play a role.

Can we treat fulminant rosacea?

The treatment of fulminant rosacea primarily relies on the use ofisotretinoin, at a dosage of 0.5 mg/kg per day. This derivative of vitamin A belongs to the retinoid family and is particularly used in cases of persistent inflammatory acne. From a mechanistic perspective, isotretinoin blocks the activity of the sebaceous glands, which inhibits the production of sebum. In doing so, it halts the proliferation of microorganisms that feed on it.

Beyond isotretinoin, tetracyclines, a group of bacteriostatic antibiotics that also possess anti-inflammatory properties, have sometimes been used successfully. Scientists also report cases of the use of oral erythromycin, whether combined with oral corticosteroids or not, in pregnant women suffering from fulminant rosacea as isotretinoin and tetracyclines are contraindicated during pregnancy. In several studies, oral erythromycin proved to be minimally effective in controlling symptoms and isotretinoin was introduced postpartum, which led to an improvement in symptoms.

When considering the entirety of available scientific data, it is observed that oral corticosteroids and isotretinoin are treatments of choice for fulminant rosacea, unless other factors, such as pregnancy, make their use impossible. In these cases, oral antibiotics are considered, while cautioning patients that this treatment alone may not be sufficient.

Note : While papulo-pustular lesions typically disappear within a few weeks after the start of treatment, erythema often persists for several months.


  • KLIGMAN A. M. & al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Rosacea fulminans. Dermatology (1994).

  • MACHET L. & al. Fulminant Rosacea at the onset of a pregnancy through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVFET). Annals of Dermatology and Venereology (2008).

  • SHINKAI K. & others. Diagnosis and Treatment of Rosacea Fulminans: A Comprehensive Review. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2018).


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