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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.

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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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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I HAVE HAD REPEAT ABCESSES AND BOILS IN GROIN AND ARMPIT AND BREAST AREAS SINCE I WAS 14 YRS OLD I AM NOW 47 AND HAVE ONLY RECENTLY BEEN DIAGNOISED AS HS AND AM A STAGE 3 AM DUE TO SEE A DERMATOLOGIST SOON AT MY LAST VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS I HAD NOT BEEN DIAGNOISED AND WAS CONSTANTLY ADVISE IT WAS IN GROWING HAIRS THE SCARS ARE AWFUL BUT IF MY DOCTOR HAD TOOK MORE NOTICE AT MY CONSTANT VISITS WITH THESE INFECTIONS I MAY HAVE HAD TREATMENT AND I WOULD NOT HAVE SO MANY TERRIBLE SCARS IT IS A CONDITION THAT NEEDS HIGHLIGHTING SO PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF SYMTOMS ECT





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I am 47 years old, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes along with about 10 other health issues that are heriditary in my family, 4 years ago i was the night chrarge nurse in a nursing home and in 21 years of being a nurse i had never became ill until then, i was violently ill with diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and everytime my husband took me to the emergency room they would send me home so my primary care doctor had direct admitted me to the hospital upon arrival i don't remember anything until a month and a half later, i had been placed in medicated coma, intubated and connected to a ventilator because i only had 9% of fluid left in my body, bacterial pneumonia in both lungs as well i had c-diff, mrsa, staph and mrsa. what i wanted to really say is even before i became very ill i had to have several of these places lanced, drained and removed, right now i have 2 in my right groin and it drains periodically from 2 places, my doctor has me cleaning the areas with betadine after i shower and if they are actively draining to put a loosley taped gauze over them, but i found if i use the medicated wound healing bandaids and place over the draining sites that they pull the infection out causing the bandaid to swell in the middle, then i take it off clean with betadine again and place a new bandaid over the sites until it stops, when i asked my doctor what causes this he jokeningly said bad luck, but then said because i have several auto immune disorders is makes me more open to other infections. Now my 17 yearold son has been getting them along with severe acne on his back and chest and i know it's not from being dirty because he has always been a clean freak about bathing, deodorant and cologne as well as making sure he always wears clean clothes, right now he has one on his right inner thigh close to his perianal area and will be having it lanced soon. We both have been on antibiotics, but i have to be careful of how much antibiotics i take because of my immune system. I have always used dove soap and even on him since he was born, but because he does weight lifting and sweats alot I have been having him use ivory soap since its pure and no moisturizers and his acne has been clearing up pretty well. If ant one has ant better ideas please let me know.





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Have been having HS flare ups for last eight or so years. I had to present to GP at least ten times and then demand a dermatology referral. I was repeatedly told to use topical antibiotics and told it was 'just' folliculitis. Dermatologist took one look at my armpits and groin and diagnosed HS. SHe has been fantastic. I took daily Tetracycline for three years which managed it - been off it for a year now but having more flare ups so need to revise the treatment options ... Currently dealing with the most horrific flare up on my thigh. Had to have one lanced for the first time yesterday having left my work in tears I was in such pain. If you're in any doubt about your symptoms educate your GP - and don't take no for an answer when asking for a dermatology referral.





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I've been suffering with abscesses for the last 4 years. It started with one that needed to be operated on, I was given little reason to what caused it at the time Ijust told to not shave or wax again (which being now 21 is blast of course). Then I got more, I get about 15-20 a year. I'm at the doctors so regularly they know I'm there for antibiotics before I even say. I've been tested few times for regular causes but this brought up no results. I had never heard of Hidradenitis Suppurativa but from what I've read it sounds like exactly my problem, and its never been suggested to me. I will defiantly be asking my doctor about this.





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Hi im in thr same boat but its extremely bsd right now I have one on my thigh one that had flared up under my boobie extremely painful no relief to much pressure and also the ones umdrr my armd which doesnt seem to heal for very long....dont know what to do have been in hospital 4x on avg a year to get drained and thats a painful process within itself .....im ready to be part of experiments lol thanx for reading





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I have lived with this condition for almost 30 years. It is a horrible thing. Would like to share some tips. Wash regularly with Seba-Med soap to stop sweat building up. Wear 100% cotton underwear or natural fibres. Wear loose comfortable clothes, not rigid jeans or tight jeans for example, if condition affects the groin area. Don't bikini wax. Ask your doctor for Fucidin cream at the first sign of a boil, this may stop it from becoming worse and can even clear it before there is a need for antibiotics. Hope this helps.





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Hi I am 38 and have this for abour 6 years. In the start it was like 1 or to a year. But now for the last 4 it is bad. I have a bout 4 to 5 under my arms and my bum and in the legs every 30 days. It is like clock work. Just befor I get pms. It is so painful. It feels like I am sick and durty. I am not over wait an shower 2 maby 3 times a day. Not to get cleen. I just like to feel fres. I sufer v ery bad from depersion an paranoia. So this realy don't not help me. But I try. When I get this I us trek salf and keep it coverd. It maks the skin thin and opens up sooner. And then the skars ... Very bad. Don't wanne swim in sumer whene we have friends I swim alone in the day. And I love to swim. So waht can I do or take to make this beter?





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hi iv suffered with hs for 30yrs now i hve had them under both armpits and both groins and under my breast and also on my tummy, i also suffer from pilonidal im in pain most of the time iv tried every antibiotic there is and also every scrub nothing helps at all. i sit in the bath 4 or 5times a day when im in real pain, doc just gives me painkillers cause theres nothing they can do for it. the past 2yrs iv not had a break from it iv been in hospital 10times in the past 2yrs iv had surgery each time and i still have got 2 lumps the size of golf balls that are agony. iv just been given antidepressants as i cant take anymore of this pain, i cant see any light at the end of the tunnel so 2 speak. im sick fed up of it now as there is no cure

I have a friend with HS and he has switched to a gluten-free diet and his symptoms have improved dramatically.





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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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