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What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Updated on May 9, 2012
Sometimes doctors will use corticosteroid injections to treat the condition.
Sometimes doctors will use corticosteroid injections to treat the condition. | Source

© 2012 Katina Davenport

Hidradenitis suppurativais a skin disorder commonly found in women. It is known as a severe form of acne, marked by painful lumps due to clogging in the apocrine sweat gland or sebaceous gland. The disease is non-contagious; and can manifest in many different ways. Some affected will have abscesses, pilonidal cysts, or sebaceous cysts. Usually, the infected areas are in places on the body that are difficult to reach or rub against clothing and other body parts. Areas such as the breast, armpit, groin, and between the buttocks can be infected. Often, patients complain of debilitating pain during flare-ups that keeps them from being mobile comfortably. Patients often wait to seek medical attention due to the embarrassment that occurs with the disease.


Some of the symptoms include the formation of tender lumps under the skin that break open and drain pus. Often, the wounds do not heal or heal very slowly depending on the location of the lesion and the severity.


This skin disease develops when the apocrine gland and hair follicle becomes clogged with fluid, dead skin cells, or other toxins released by the apocrine gland. As these toxins and debris come into contact with the sebaceous gland they become trapped in the hair follicle. Once bacteria come into contact with the infected follicle, inflammation and infection occurs.

Who’s at Risk?

Unfortunately, women are more likely to have this disease. Those that are in between the ages of puberty and 40 can experience flare ups. Women are likely to have hidradenitis suppurativa due to hormone changes e.g. before their menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, and postpartum. Heredity also plays an important role. If a parent or grandparent was ever diagnosed with inflammation of the sweat glands then there is a greater chance of having someone else in the family with the disease.

Foods that Cause Inflammation in the Body

High fatty foods that turn into sugar quickly are considered to be pro-inflammatory. If you have a disease like Hidradenitis suppurativa it is best to stay away from things such as:

  • High fat meats, dairy products, and eggs.
  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, and deli meats have nitrates that cause inflammation.
  • Trans fatty foods such as chips, cookies, and deep fried fast food.
  • If you have more than one cup of coffee per day, then you are more likely to have inflammation in the body. It would be best to eliminate coffee from your diet or drink just one cup per day.
  • Anything with high fructose corn syrup.


Sadly, there is no cure for this disease. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, self-care such as washing the infected area with anti-bacterial soap and applying warm compresses can help treat the disease, in less severe cases. However, in more moderate cases antibiotics and anti-bacteria gel is used. In severe instances surgery is required.

Lifestyle Changes

Those that have been diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa should begin thinking about a complete lifestyle change to treat the symptoms. Eliminating inflammatory foods can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body as well as the hair follicle. Warm compresses can help kill the bacteria that may be surrounding the hair follicle. In obese patients weight loss has been found to reduce or improve the symptoms.


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    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Does not sound like something fun to have. May this hub help many people.