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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.

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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 think I have this condition been to GP several times but they're not really interested where do I go from here





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I think I have this condition been to GP several times but they're not really interested where do I go from here





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I've suffered with pilonidal sinuses on my back, acne keloidis (dissecting cellulitis of the scalp) and most recently HS and tried soooooooo many things and had sooooo many ops and got so depressed with it all. If you can afford it or have insurance then take my advice and go to the london dermatology centre and see dr chopra who has been on embarassing bodies before. the man is a miracle worker and really nice too.





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Laser surgery was the best for me .... It has made my HS under my arms livable. I only have a small outbreak break every so often in a few areas the laser missed. Change of insurance made it impossible for me to return. I now have them worse in the groin area. So they do move ... But having use of my arms is such a blessing . No cure but sure was life changing for the better. I have it for 40 yrs. Stage 3 for many of them. I just got done with a severe case for 3/4 days. Again having use of my arms is so worth the laser. It's not a seriously painful surgery the HS is so much worse. Hope this helps :)





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i have these boils underneath my stomach and breasts even in my groin area, i have been to see a docyor who has said that i have a stomach infection and cant give me anything, i had this stomach infection for 4yrs now i cant have antibiotics as they dont know where the infection is,i suffer with depression and this on top is making me worse, i feel like i cant turn to anyone my children want me to go swimming but i cant as the scaring and lumps,, please help,





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I've been dealing with cystic acne as a child and the dermatologist put me on Acutane. Still had very moderate acne, but no more cysts. It was a blessing. Then in my late 20's I started getting sores in groin and could hardly walk. Well I'm 38 and now they are between legs,pits and groin. This is the most depressing thing I've ever gone through. Since it has gotten worse I refuse to date and haven't been sexually active in a long time. Sometimes I just wish I wouldn't wake up, but I have two wonderful boys who keep me alive. I just really hate going through life like this and I know exactly what you all are going through. I'm too embarrassed to even go to a Dr. I figure what is the point their is no cure so why go thru the humiliation. The arm pits are the worse and this is the most recent ones I've gotten. At least I could hide others in summer time, will not be able to hide these. I feel like people can smell me especially when they're draining. Just make me sick. I really suffer from depression from this and it hurts. I try to keep a fake smile on but I don't know how long that will last.





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This started about 2 months ago. I had a few boils in my lifetime but nothing like this. I found one lump that one went away. The next month I foub 3 under one arm. They fester up and act like a boil. They keep re curring. Im starting to worry. I am 65 years old with no breast cancer in my history.

I've been dealing with cystic acne as a child and the dermatologist put me on Acutane. Still had very moderate acne, but no more cysts. It was a blessing. Then in my late 20's I started getting sores in groin and could hardly walk. Well I'm 38 and now they are between legs,pits and groin. This is the most depressing thing I've ever gone through. Since it has gotten worse I refuse to date and haven't been sexually active in a long time. Sometimes I just wish I wouldn't wake up, but I have two wonderful boys who keep me alive. I just really hate going through life like this and I know exactly what you all are going through. I'm too embarrassed to even go to a Dr. I figure what is the point their is no cure so why go thru the humiliation. The arm pits are the worse and this is the most recent ones I've gotten. At least I could hide others in summer time, will not be able to hide these. I feel like people can smell me especially when they're draining. Just make me sick. I really suffer from depression from this and it hurts. I try to keep a fake smile on but I don't know how long that will last.





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Hey everyone! Victoria here again I posted on this site telling my story about life with HS a few weeks ago and have found a lot of your comments to be very helpful. Since then I have been doing a lot of research and was hoping for some of your opinions espesially if you have tried any of thse treatments. Basically my doctors want to do surgery in my arm pits to remove everything (scars, sweat glands, lymph nodes) and then patch them back up again and hope for the best. This to me seems like a last resort and I really want to make sure that i have tried everything else before I go for this procedure. Iv never tried steroid/ cortozone shots yet. To my understanding you go for a shot every time you feel a new bump starting to form.. (Gosh at this point id be getting a shot every couple days! ) if you have tired this method please let me know how it worked out for you! One of my nurses said another patient of hers with HS swears by them. Id like to get some more opinions :) Another treatment I recently heard of is HS patients taking Metformin (diabetes medication) this is to regualte hormones and help to control sugars so that the bacteria cant feed off of excess sugars in the body. Again I dont know a whole lot about this mehod of treatment however ot seems to make a lot of sense and at this point im really willing to try anything. If you have taken/ are taking Metformin to treat your HS i would really like to hear what you think! Ps. Im already on birthcontrol however I dont find much difference in my condition from taking it. Thanks so much for giving this a read and I look forword go reading your feedback :) - Victoria





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hi victoria i tried everything but nothing worked. so i had the surgery on both armpits i havent had any trouble with them since the surgery, yes it is a big op but to me was best thing i have done. iv had no trouble at all since i got the ops. i did have to get skin graphs which were very painful but glad i did. hope you find this helpful gl

Hi Victoria. I had surgery like you described beneath both arms back in 1986 and the area has had no recurrance of H.S. in that area. I also had beneath both breasts operated on in the same year to remove abcesses , scar tissue and sinus formation . Again with success. However after that it occured in my right and left groin area. They were operated on and were ok for some time. Then I developed horrendous pilonidal issues which caused septaceamia and I had two surgeries within 10 weeks. After those ops H.S. recurred in the groin , labia and pubic bone area. I just think it moves from place to place. I did NOT have anything on the pubic bone area until I was given Metformin for newly diagnosed type 2. I have had a permanent large leaking abcess there for over 3 years. Antibiotics dont help as swabs show I dont have a bacterial infection . Its just good old H.S. doing its own thing. Surgeons will not operate as they state it is incurable and I can live with it these days as it was far more painful 34 years ago when I first developed it. Incidentally , I was not obese and nor was I diabetic back then ......the two things that are often associated with this. However I am now both. So in my case the pubic bone area only appeared on the scene after I had been on Metformin for about 4 years .xxx

My daughter after 13 years of suffering was diagnosed yesterday with this horrible disease. Countless doctor visits, ER visits, creams, shots and pain and antibiotics. She now has a 10 month old baby girl and since her pregnancy her out breaks are worse. Funny when she was pregnant she got a little relief. which I felt was such a blessing. My baby had a few months of peace. Her doctor had just a few hours earlier treated the office manager at the hospital for the same problem. So when my daughter walked in slowly due to sores in her groin area carrying research she had done about this disease she told her she was right. FINALLY!!! Praise God it had a name! It wasn't due to lack of being unclean, knowing she bathed twice a day and still could not get rid of these sores. I was so grateful I drove to the doctor to thank her for finally having a clue to what we were dealing with. But they had closed.Tears of joy streamed down my face. My daughter thought she was just cursed. Feeling as low as Job did when he was stroke with the boils. And no answers to where or why he had them. If you know someone with this problem please tell them they are not alone. Those that suffer have family that suffer with them. Come out and tell your doctors so they can help slow it or better yet cure it! Prayers of peace and comfort to all those who suffer...





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I'm 20 years young I have had HS for about 4 and a half years now. It is very painful and I feel so disgusting and I cry everytime I look at them. When I got my first one I thought it was just a boil. So I didn't think nothing of it! Then I got with my boyfriend husband now, and I noticed them more and then I starting becoming ashamed to show my body to my boyfriend. He noticed that I would only get naked in the dark but didn't say anything a couple of months later he asked me and I broke down crying! Months pass and we know what it is now but I would still cry all the time. I get them by my groin and under my armpits and I don't wear a baiting suit or shorts or tank tops and I always make sure there covered! I have so many scars an they are so embarrassing until I found out a couple of my friends have them also. And them my mom and my husband made me feel better about them it took a while but I now can accept them and just get over the fact I have them an always will. All u lady's and gentlemen need to keep your head up and think positive. It's hard and it sucks but hopefully one day there will be a cure and we will finally be pain free!! I just think that I could have it way worse like a deadly disease and I'm thankful everyday that I don't! So let's keep fighting through it and hope for a cure.





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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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