Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin condition that resembles pimples, cystic acne, folliculitis or boils with draining sinus tracts. It typically develops in skin folds or areas of the body where skin rubs together.
Signs & Symptoms of Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Hidradenitis suppurativa often starts as a single or few inflammatory lesions in skin folds such as the underarms, groin, upper thighs and/or under the breasts.
Most cases begin with a single tender lump but can spread to include multiple bumps. The red, pea-sized bumps resemble pimples or boils and may sometimes resolve on their own.
The lumps often heal only to reappear again and can cause serious pain, drainage, scarring and sometimes localized infection of the skin. Unless properly treated, the bumps can leak or rupture, producing a foul odor and the slow-healing sores and tracts can persist for months.
Causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa
The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unknown, but the condition typically develops after puberty. Some contributing factors include:
Hormones: Hidradenitis suppurativa rarely occurs before age 11 or after menopause, and has been linked with inflammation of the apocrine glands which often become active after puberty
Sex: Women are three times more likely to develop the disease than men
Smoking: HS is more common in smokers
Obesity: Wight gain and obesity increases the risk of the disease
Overactive immune system: The inflamed lumps may be caused by an overactive immune response to clogged follicles
You can reduce the risk and severity of hidradenitis suppurativa by losing weight, stopping smoking, avoiding shaving around breakouts, wearing lightweight clothing and keeping your skin cool.
Treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa
There are a variety of treatment options for hidradenitis suppurativa, but not every patient responds to them all. Your dermatologist will determine which method is best for you. Medical treatment includes:
Oral and topical Antibiotics
Over-the-counter acne washes
Corticosteroids or other prescription medications including oral retinoids
Surgical treatment may be considered for more severe cases with multiple lesions, scarring and drainage that don’t respond to medical treatment.