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Conditions

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradentitis suppurativa in the armpit

With a name like hidradenitis suppurativa, it’s perhaps not immediately obvious what kind of condition we’re going to tell you about. However, if you take a moment to look up “suppuration” in the dictionary, you’ll discover that it means “the formation or discharge of pus”, which should start to give you an idea. Hidradenitis is a chronic and stubborn skin disease centred on inflammation of the large specialised sweat glands (apocrine glands) that are found mainly in the armpits and groin area. These areas show a distinctive mixture of boil-like lumps, areas leaking pus, and scarring, which can be itchy, but usually painful, and the lumps hurt if they are pressed. Aside from the pain and unpleasantness of the condition, it can also be embarrassing and unsightly. There are possibly over 100,000 sufferers in the UK alone with this condition, which can be difficult to treat, although there are a number of treatments that can be tried including medications and surgery.

HS is a chronic condition which is managed rather than cured and can unfortunately flare up again even after it has appeared to improve. Further information and support on living with the condition can be obtained by contacting the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Trust.

Watch the Live from the Clinic interactive case video on hidradenitis suppurativa >

Get Involved With A New HS Study

It is estimated that 1% of the population have HS. However the figure could be higher due to lack of recognition. Current management of HS can be unsatisfactory, so more research is needed regarding this distressing condition. The UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network has set up a Priority Setting Partnership, using the James Lind Alliance model, to tackle this issue. The partnership includes patients (including the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Trust), carers, dermatologists, dermatology nurses, GPs, surgeons and psychologists. The central task is to identify uncertainties about HS and its management, then to prioritise the top 10 selected issues for future research.

To get involved in this research please follow this link to fill out an online survey >

Comments and Questions

The EB doctors have been looking at your comments and have answered some of the common questions below. Remember that it is always best to check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

I was diagnosed with HS about two months ago. Have an appointment with dermatologist in mid December. It started about five months ago with red splotches on my underarms. They didn't itch or burn or anything. Then suddenly a lump came up under one arm and it was very tender. It hurt to lift my arm. I went to my GP and she said right away it was HS. She gave me a print out with info about it. I left there with absolutely no idea what it was. When I got home and read it....I freaked out. I researched it on the web over and over again. I'm still hoping it is a misdiagnosis but the more pictures I look at and the more I read.....the more I am convinced that this indeed HS. It now itches like crazy and burns and has spread like crazy. No more lumps since the initial one that the antibiotic took care of. Will find out for sure qwhat it is in December.





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Greetings fellow HS suffers.. My name is Jeanne, I am 36 years old and have been dealing with this since puberty. I have had issues in my arm pits,but not for years now. Now, I deal with large,painful,foul smelling boils to my groin. They are right along my panty line, so they are constantly aggravated, if not by my underwear,then by me simply crossing my legs, exercising, pretty much anything that isn't lying in bed pantyless. As long as I can remember, I would occasionally get these, I just figured either ingrown hair or there was too much friction going on between my legs. Then, within the past 6 months, they grew larger in size & number. Wax & wan with stress,periods..finally told my primary, who sent me to a surgeon, who then sent me to a plastic surgeon who finally diagnosed me. He,of course put me on antibiotics, which did nothing except cause a raging yeast infection. Had me wash with antimicrobial soap, which kinda helped, but it wasn't enough. He did an excision, had me feeling very optimistic about the outcome and 2 more came back before I completely healed. Needless to say I feel defeated,hopeless, and to be honest, I'm a little angry. Which, by the way, stress can cause an outbreak. I feel screwed. At the time I would get occasional outbreaks, I was overweight, smoked,exercised sporadically,had a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. Within the past 5 years, I changed all of it..now I have these boils & sores that just won't heal. This is incredibly frustrating. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my body. HS has negatively affected my sex life, my social life. With the open wounds and painful boils, I am literally coming undone..physically and emotionally. It's time for change..I just don't know what I need to do. Help





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I've only recently being diagnosed. I hot my first one when I was 13 and had them every year since- always told it was ingrown hairs etc. In the past year it has become a lot more frequent; I actually told my doctor what it was as I just had a feeling they were all connected. I get them predominantly in my left arm pit but also other the breasts, groin and bottom. They are seriously painful during a big flare up and last month I had to take 2 weeks off work due to not even being able to move my arm. Now today its starting again and I dont know what to do to help it. I'm currently on preventstive antibiotics and hibbiscrub but its getting worse each time.





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I started getting lumps when i was 18 but i thought it was just ingrown hairs from shaving then i staretd getting lumps on my face too which i thought was just really bad spots due to stress and hormones etc so I didnt actually go to a gp for about a year until i had a really painful one on my face and realised that it wasnt normal to have spots that painful! Im now 24 and have been to the docs countless times got told it was cellulitis, imbetigo, boils etc then they thought it was pvl but that test came back negative, i have only this year finally been to a dermatologist and she diagnosed this within 5 mins of seeing it. I wasnt sure at first (i dont have much faith in the nhs atm) but the more I read the more I see how this is what I have. I get lumps in my armpits and groin which hurt but I also (and most often) get them on my face and when i do they are a whole other level of pain and inflammation. I have one right now and this is whilst i am on daily antibiotics (doxycycline 50mg) long term. and duac gel. I have also started getting them under my breasts they didnt really hurt at all but left an open puncture like wound for about 2-3 weeks. I am so fed up and it is very depressing to think i will keep having these as there is no actual cure. I am just trying to change my diet and not wear cosmetics etc. I wanted to be a makeup artist but this illness ruined that, it has also ruined all of my jobs i have had as i have had to take sickness so many times. I wish there was more info about this illness :(





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My name is Brandon . I thought it was acne,I was 16 or so. Then figured it wa staph. Was encarcerated at an early age. Then I was told by many doctors they have no idea what it is. Then after years of feeling like I have a diaper on my face. I started to tan, changed my diet 100% from canned and boxed this to making a hole in my flour pile for my eggs for pasta. Moved from Maine to ms. With no relief... Went vegatarian. i Was raised on steak and potatoes. I've been told I was allergic to cotton etc etc. doctors will tell you anything to not feel undereducated after all there schooling. I can stick a paperclip through these holes in my skin. My skin cleane up a little when I stopped all the hormonal foods like milk chicken steak etc. I would do anything to find a heal for this pain. It makes everyday work extremly painful. I've been a chronic marijuana smoker since 16. Only thing that seems to do the "right" trick.





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Does this condition seem to affect m2f transgered more than the normql population ?





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I have been living with this condition since I started my monthly period. I was about 11 or 12. All my life I've been ashamed of my body. And all I ever heard from doctors& family is that they was boils. It wasn't till I went to a obgyn recently that it was Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Do you know I cried like a baby when she told me that. Because I was starting to feel crazy, like I was making up a problem with my body. And to hear that there was something really going on with me, a real condition, I was Happy. So now I need to how to deal with it how to control it.





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Hi I've just been told I got hs and had surgery as it was sooo bad 12 months of pain.just got out of hospital.saw wot the surgery has cut out all infected area which nearly resulting in a skin Graft.i was lucky.now we can c if this has worked.fingers crossed it goes away





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So sad. I have had this since 10 years old. It gets much worse right before periods. I know it must be linked to hormones. Why can't we find out what we are lacking,or have to much of. I am noe 39. Sick.of this. The pain and embarrassment are unbearable sometimes. Help! I need advice.Anyone ever gone years with out a flare up?





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As Hidradenitis suppurativa is characterized by severe inflammation, it is imperative that you keep the body in an anti-inflammatory state. This is achieved through the adoption of an anti-inflammatory diet, i.e. one high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in pro-inflammatory ones. For example, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids (such as oily fish like salmon and fresh tuna) stimulate the body to produce molecules (called eicosanoids) that combat inflammation.

hi my partner has suffered with hs for years.i got fed up as nothing was been given to him to ease the pain so i went onto the internet for about four days checking it out.one name i saw regularly was tea tree.ichecked out a few chemists b4 i found one that sold tea tree cream.its been about eight months now and he has improved dramatically.no longer bed ridden all the time.his dermatologist couldnt believe the diff and said to continue with what we were doing.hope this helps you.paula.

Hi I'm 19 I been suffering from Hs since I was 13 this disorder has took a toll over my life its very depressing when I start my period it comes black when I work out and in the summertime its comes back I wish they have a cure because its unbearable :(:(





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It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





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