Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hidradenitis Suppurativa or HS is a skin disease that is known for clusters of abscesses, epidermoid cysts, pilonidal cysts, sebaceous cysts, or multilocalised infections. It develops when the hair follicles become blocked, then inflamed. Causes of the hair follicles becoming blocked could include genetics, cigarettes, hormones and excessive weight. Taking lithium also plays a role in developing hidradenitis suppurativa. The disease is not contagious and usually effects areas of the skin that have apocrine sweat glands, such as the groin, armpits, inner thighs, buttocks, and under the breasts. Approximately 33% of those with hidradenitis suppurativa have a blood relative that have the skin disease.

These cysts tend to last for many years and are known to be tender. Lumps will form under the skin that are pea sized to marble sized. They can break open at any time and have a foul smelling discharge or pus. These bumps may itch, sweat excessively, or burn. They will heal very slowly and in some cases do not even heal at all. Other signs and symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa include blackheads that appear in a pair, which are also known as having a double barreled pattern. It usually starts after puberty has hit, and gets persistently worse over the years. Excessive heat, being overweight, stress, excessive perspiration, and hormonal changes can make hidradenitis suppurativa worse. Woman are three times as likely as men to get hidradenitis suppurativa. It is extremely rare for a woman to contract hidradenitis suppurativa after menopause or after 55 years.

What to do if you think you may have Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Should you suspect that you do have hidradenitis suppurativa, your doctor will exam the skin. A sample of any pus or drainage may be taken. Your dermatologist will also want to know how painful the skin condition is, when it started, and if it came on gradually or suddenly.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Treatment

There is not a cure for hidradenitis suppurativa. However, your doctor could prescribe some antibiotics to prevent the skin disease from getting worse. They could be prescribed as either an oral pill or a topical cream. Corticosteroids injected directly into the nodule could also help with the pain. Oral steroids may be given, and tumor necrosis factor(TNF) alpha inhibitors can also be used, but there is a caution with these as they can increase the risk of infection, cancers, and heart failure.

Surgery may also be an option for those that suffer from hidradenitis suppurativa. If the area involved is a small, single area, surgical drainage can be used.  Please do note that this form of treatment is often used for short term relief. A procedure called De-roofing can be done, in which the skin and flesh are cut from an interconnecting tunnels that have linked separate lesions.  The skin disease can still return to this area of the body later on.  A third procedure involves surgical removal.  A skin graft could be needed to close the wound fully.

Lifestyle remedies that can help with hidradenitis suppurativa include losing weight. It is important to note that losing weight is not a cure for the skin disease, however, it could help to improve the symptoms. Wearing looser fitting clothing will help to prevent skin irritation. Tight clothing could irritate the skin, as could synthetic clothing. Applying warm compresses to the skin will reduce swelling and keeping the affected area clean with antibacterial soap and an OTC antibiotic will help with symptoms when hidradenitis suppurativa flares up. Taking zinc oxide daily can help prevent new outbreaks from forming as well as reducing the inflammation.

6 replies
  1. Dina I.
    Dina I. says:

    I wonder if I have hidradenitis suppurativa. I have a spot on my stomach. I am slightly overweight, so I do have some folds between my stomach and my private area. That is where the spots have been showing up. It is red and really bothersome and does stink. It does not look like lumps though to me. I probably should get it checked out but I am embarrassed about it. The doctor would have to hold my tummy up, to see the red rash. I have tried different things on it from diaper rash cream to Vaseline. Maybe I will start taking zinc and try the OTB antibiotics and washing it well. I mean I do wash it now, but maybe pairing it up with the others will give it the boost that it needs to heal.

  2. Inna M.
    Inna M. says:

    I have a way to help bring relief to those that have pain from the lumps. Try teabags. Just brew a cup of tea in hot water, and then use the tea bag on the painful nodule. Leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then remove. It really does not sound like it would be helpful in any way, but it does feel pretty amazing.

  3. Samira Parila
    Samira Parila says:

    I have a quick tip to offer those that are suffering with hidradenitis suppurativa. If you have a flare up,and shave in the area that you have this skin disease, skip the shaving. Shaving will only irritate the skin. Many may not realize this. And if you do flare up, stop the cigarettes. It will help to make the flare ups better, and will improve your quality of life at the same time. This is coming from someone that has had a few flare ups with hidradenitis suppurativa. I have suffered from this skin disorder for many years, and finally a few years back stopped smoking. And it really did help me I feel. Plus I feel so much better about myself right now, so it was a win win situation.

  4. Lissa V.V
    Lissa V.V says:

    I suffer from hidradenitis suppurativa. Many have the misconception that you are a dirty person if you have this skin disease. That is not the case. I take showers daily, sometimes even twice a day. I use a very good antibacterial soap, and lather up very well. And yet I still suffer. Granted, I am a bigger person. I sweat a lot. It sounds gross, I know, but that is what has caused this dreadful disease for me. I never knew that zinc could help clear this up. I wonder how much to take? Just one pill a day?

  5. Ten P.G.
    Ten P.G. says:

    Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin disease that my father suffered from. I found it very interesting to learn that more woman get this disease. I never knew that. I wonder if I will develop it since it can be caused by genetics? I am a female that is only 28 years old. I guess I have time to get it yet, but am going to take the precautions not to get it. It does look awful and I know that my father was very self conscious about it. I am going to pick up some zinc and start taking that daily. I do not wear tight clothing now, so that will never be an issue for me. I really hope that I do not get hidradenitis suppurativa, but if I do, this article has been very helpful and I can relay some info back to my father. So much thanks for it.

  6. samantha
    samantha says:

    Hi everyone I have been suffering from stage 2 HS for 8 years now and I am only 21 years old. I have trailed many different antibiotics I have been on courses for over 5 months which did show and improvement but like always the HS always comes back, as there is no cure at this stage I have been doing research on the chronic dieses myself and I have found a cream that works wonders and is all natural it is called “emuaidMAX” it is a type of Homeopathic Medicine it helps with pain, inflammation and infection. I love it, within 3 hours of applying the pain has gone down a lot and with continual use most of the time the pain stays away. I use it 3 times a day when I get bad flare ups.


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