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Hidradenitis Suppurativa – Pictures, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes

Updated on October 20, 2013

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a skin condition that normally starts after puberty. This is a chronic skin condition that is characterized by small lumps which are found under the skin. It is also known as Acne Inversa. The small sized bumps are found anywhere where the skin is in friction. The most common are the armpits, under the breasts, between the buttocks and at the groin.

This condition can be painful and sometimes that lumps may burst open and emit pus that smells very repulsive. The condition can last for years. Sometimes the lumps are joined by tunnels. The condition can be managed if it is diagnosed early. This will also prevent the development of other lumps.

What are the causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

This condition is caused by the blockage of the hair follicle. This leads to the inflammation of the follicles and hence the condition. Nobody knows why the blockage happens but it is thought to be due to hormones, obesity, genetics and even smoking cigarettes.

What are the symptoms of Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

The disease appears in areas where there may be a lot of sweat and oil glands. Areas such as the armpits, anus and groin are very susceptible. The condition also occurs in areas where the skin rubs together. This can be between the buttocks and the inner thighs. It can also occur under the breasts. The condition can occur in an isolated area or it can occur at multiple points on the body.

The disease may manifest as

  • Blackheads – The black heads in this case are dark colored and appear in pairs, also known as a double barrel pattern

  • Red bumps – These bumps are tender and they usually grow before the burst and drain foul-smelling pus. The bumps are accompanied by itchiness, excessive sweating and a burning sensation.

  • Painful lumps – these are pea-sized lumps which form under the skin. The condition can last for many years.

  • Sores and bumps that leak – The sores ooze clear liquid and they heal very slowly. The sores may also leave scars

These are some of the symptoms associated with the disease. It begins at puberty and manifests as a single lump which will last for weeks and months. Some people only experience mild symptoms while in others the disease tends to become worse. Stress, hormonal changes, excess weight perspiration and heat can make the disease become worse.

What is the diagnosis for Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

The diagnosis of the disease is very simple. The doctor will simply examine the skin and then take the pus to the lab for testing.

What is the treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Currently there is no cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa. However, if it is diagnosed early, it can be managed and the symptoms can be reduced. It is important that it is treated early so the skin does not develop new lesions. Your doctor will give certain medications to try to relieve the symptoms.

  • Antibiotics – These will stop the disease from spreading to other parts of the body. However, you will have to use them for a long time. They can be applied topically or they may be in the form of pills which the patient swallows.

  • Corticosteroids – These are injected into the affected area. This helps in bringing some relief. The patient can also take oral steroids. However the prolonged use of steroids has a lot of side effects.

  • Tumor Necrosis Factoralpha inhibitors – These drugs have promising results for healing Hidradenitis Suppurativa, but they may cause heart failure, cancer and also increase the risk of infection.

Surgery is also used to treat the condition. However this is an avenue that is taken when the skin lesions are deep, and for persistent cases.

  • Incision and drainage – Surgical drainage of the lesion is done when the patient has a single lesion. It is used for short term relief.

  • Uncovering tunnels – The process is used to uncover the tunnels that may link 2 or more lesions. This is called as de-roofing. The skin above the tunnels is cut open to expose the tunnel below. Even in this method, the condition may come back or move to another part of the body.

  • Surgical removal – This is a radical treatment since it involves the removal of all the skin that has been affected. The patient may require skin grafts in order to cover the exposed areas. This method will treat the disease but it does not mean that the disease cannot come back.

What other methods of relief are there for Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

In order to reduce the swelling you should apply warm compresses to the affected area. Keep the area clean and also wear loose clothes. If you are obese then you should try and lose weight. This will reduce the areas of contact where the skin rubs together. It will also reduce the mount of perspirations.


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