Occlusion Acne

Occlusion acne is merely an interesting diversion on the acne superhighway, except for doctors and the few unfortunate individuals who develop this rare clinical type of acne. There is certainly an air of intrigue about a condition which is most strongly associated with hippy culture, military service, bondage and fetishism.

Causes of Occlusion Acne

Acne may be caused by wearing fetish gear

The curiosity value in occlusion acne lies in the fact that it was most prevalent in the 1960s and associated with the hippy culture of that period. The wearing of headbands, wristbands or other items of personal adornment next to the skin causes friction and maceration. This damage to the skin's surface leads to hair follicles becoming blocked and the development of acne. The reduction in the wearing of head and wristbands which accompanied the decline in hippy culture was mirrored by a reduction in the incidence of occlusion acne. However, any impermeable material applied to or worn directly next to the skin for a prolonged period of time can cause acne. Indeed, acne can be induced experimentally by applying occlusive sticking plaster. Occlusion acne is now most common in soldiers, particularly those stationed in the tropics, who develop acne on areas of bare flesh which are in contact with rucksack straps or webbing. Occlusion acne also occurs in people involved in bondage, sadomasochist or fetish activities, as a result of wearing outfits or restraints made of leather, rubber or PVC.

Diagnosis of Occlusion Acne

The diagnosis of acne caused by occlusion is usually relatively easy, as the acne spots occur in localised areas which match the pattern of skin maceration caused by the occlusive material. The development of acne spots with a well demarcated or band-like distribution strongly suggests occlusion acne as a likely cause. The diagnosis is confirmed by asking about the patient's work and recreational activities, thereby identifying a definitive occlusive cause for the acne.

Treatment of Occlusion Acne

The mainstay of treatment for acne caused by occlusion is to prevent further damage to the skin in order to allow the acne time to heal naturally. Some people with acne caused by deviant sexual practices are unwilling or unable to suspend their activities for a sufficiently long period to allow the acne to resolve and may therefore require a more proactive approach to their acne treatment.