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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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Hi, I am 21/M suffering from boils & leaking pus for about 2 months now after I&D. I had the lump occur about from February. Taken cephalaxin, ranitidine, and other antibiotics. Two months of dressing everyday & college is seriously killing me. Although there is only mild pain when touching my left armpit & while dressing, my real problem is my mental life as all seem to laugh at me especially in my college, they don't even know how much I am suffering. I have no friends & my family isn't very supportive either. All the doctors I have seen so for reply as if they don't even care about me. Through internet I found so many also affected by this, even worser & longer than me. Tests reveal nothing growing in the pus. I still don't know what I am suffering with. Is this forever. Can't I get rid of thing called pus. Please anyone share your views with me towards this. I am a poor guy who can't afford those expensive treatments or medicines.So can anyone pls suggest some reply for my problem "Pus continuously leaks from my left armpit everyday which the nurse that does the dressing drains by force. I thought it was some bacteria but my culture test was negative with no growth. Pls anyone tell me what is it that I am suffering with". I found a site known as *fast HS cure tm* e-book which was said & filled with replies of patients who got cured with promising results, however it costs $39 which like 2000 in my country that I can't afford at all considering my family background. The above site is my advice to any people suffering from HS. Although I am not sure I too am one it I wish all the people in the world can be cured of this dread immortal disease. If I was studying doctorate or something I would really have opt to take this into my consideration & cure everyone throughout the world. Thanks to any reading this completely although it is so long which shows how much lonely I am & I would really love to hear some ones reply. This is my first time commenting via internet so please don't think bad about me, I am just a 21 yr kid completely innocent & pathetic childhood may be the reason and if you were wondering my nationality then know that I am an INDIAN.





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Hi, Sorry to hear you are suffering so badly with this unpleasant disease and finding it so difficult to cope. I am a naturopathic nutritionist and we are trained to look for the root cause of a condition. With HS the cause may originate in the gut as a result of dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut flora (bacteria). We have trillions of beneficial gut bacteria in our digestive systems but sometimes they can become imbalanced due to various causes such as a poor diet with processed foods, stress, alcohol and medications, particularly antibiotics which kill off many of the good bacteria as well as the bad. You should try to eat a varied fresh whole food diet with high quality protein, lots of vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid wheat and sugar, processed and refined foods and eat plenty of traditional fermented foods as these will gradually and naturally restore the beneficial bacteria to your gut. You should notice a difference quite soon although everyone is different and sometimes these changes can take a while before you see the benefits. Good luck and I hope this helps.

I have had this for 20 years, numerous operations and antibiotics till i got referred to bedford hospital dermatolgy. A wonderful dr. gave me botox injections under my arms, i stayed free for some years and then stopped 3 years on without botox and they are back with a vengance. I have now moved area, so i dont know what will happen now.





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OMG I wana cry I've not been diognosed but I've been suffering for 13 yrs I'm 29 yrs old I've had 4 ops in 12 months and yrs and yrs of antibiotics I get these massive boils that leak constantly in my groin I use to get them on my face but I take lymicycline and it stopped it in its tracks on my face but if I stop taking them it comes back within the week 😧 it then moved to my groin I feel so lonely and depressed and angry all the time cause I'm in constant pain can't walk properly can't sleep or sit with my legs shut can't take my kids swimming pool running around is a big no no sitting on the floor to play with my kids as it's too painful to get so low on the ground and getting up with closing my legs makes my eyes water just thinking bout it I feel trapped 😢😢😢 I'm a young mum who just want my life back 😢😢😢 I'm going back to my docs tomorrow as I'm convinced that I have HS





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You should go to the doctors and try not to feel alone - its a terrible condition and people who don't suffer dont realise the pain and the paranoia it can cause. I originally suffered from them in my groin area, I remember having one so large when I was pregnant I actually couldn't walk, I used to cover them with dressings and eventually they would drain but would soon fill up again....and the pan was terrible but funnily enough I could cope with the pain, it was the way it made me feel and still does - its takes your confidence away completely.....Mines have moved to my underarms which are constantly weeping large boils and smell, people comment on how I always wear black and this is the reason why. I have recently ordered Manuka Honey which I have heard is good - I will let you know how I get on....take care

I know it is depressing. Please try the elimination gaps diet it helps to find out what your eating that your reacting to! it is most likely wheat or corn starch and night shades are another one" not eating process food helps a ton! kombucha is a fermented drink and it helps tons too! Iam just getting over a break out from eating wheat and it almost killed me with the pain and suffering. I have been doing essential oils also and its really good:) but I think the more you stress the worse it gets SO JUST try hard to de- stress.

I do agree with those hear saying that antibiotics are not the answer, I first tried them as a treatment for my HS when I was diagnosed in my late teens and I have tried them over the years now and then since and I can say they did nothing for me, not to say it wont work for others but did nothing for me. Also for those asking about turmeric it is usually administered as a oral supplement, at least thats how I take it. Look up websites like http://curehidradenitissuppurativanow.com as they go into more detail about it individually and also recommend other treatments such as tea tree oil etc. You can get turmeric supplements from most health shops.





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Lawrence - thanks for your somewhat abrupt advise - I am assuming that you found out diet was the cause due to trial and error and not because you are a qualified doctor.....to everyone else, thanks for your comments - its nice to know we do not suffer alone and the advise on lifestyle and diet will be taken on-board, in the mean-time while I agree that antibiotics are not the answer they help with the swelling and pain until I find another solution. Good luck guys - I will let you know how I get on with my medical Manuka Honey when it arrives.





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I have suffered for about 9 years now and they seem to be getting worse - I can handle the pain although it becomes so bad at times that I cant put my arms down properly but the scarring and weeping and the smell is really embarassing - I worry because it seems to be spreading and I do not know what to do to stop it. I have tried taking long term antibiotics but my arms wept constantly. I have recently ordered Manuka Honey - has anyone tried this??





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STOP TAKING ANTIBIOTICS!!! it has nothing to do with a bacterial infection. it is your body producing too much melanin because you're in toxic shock from a lack of proper food and nutrition. inflammatory skin condition caused by inflamed bowels. i've basically fixed myself. i only get recurrences when i eat the wrong things or smoke too much in a day. its the result of our immune systems not functioning properly due to our guts being poisoned.

I have suffered with this condition for 30 years. Have been on long term antibiotics and have some surgery removed. Nothing helps. It has reapeared where I had surgery, and in the groin area has appeared to be one on top of another looking like a bunch of grapes. It is so painful and sore. I have stopped using deodorant and use sudocrem on them. But is so embarrassing as to soak up the fluid I use sanitary towels to soak it up. I thought I was the only one who suffered with this. Would love to hear of other people who suffer the same.





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its completely diet related from what i have found and smoking seems to also aggravate the symptoms possibly. since i have made sure to stay away from processed foods and mainly mass produced wheat and dairy products the conditions have basically completely gone. only get recurrences when i eat the wrong things again. immune system stuff i think. inflammatory skin condition as the result of inflamed bowels it seems.

I have suffered with this condition for so many years now its hard to remember a time without it. I suppose like many my worst area is my under arms, I have regular large and painful outbreaks with some cysts lasting for weeks. Quite simply antibiotics have completely failed me, they do nothing. I never used to think much of alternative treatments but in my desperation I have been searching the net for natural treatments and I recently came across a website called http://curehidradenitissuppurativanow.com , I read there that turmeric and tea tree oil can really help with outbreaks. I the past I would never have bothered with this but I thought I may as well try it and sure enough I am almost 2 months outbreak free, this is unheard of! I hope this helps someone!





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Hi, I have seen a few comments about using Turmeric, how's this administered? I have a boil that burst about 3 weeks ago under my armpit and the wound is struggling to heal. Am going to the doctors in a couple of day for advice but not holding out much hope. Drives me mad !!!!

For years I've been told I suffer with sebaceous cysts of the groin area. Having had quite a few drained etc, initially they used to drain and clean the affected area before stitching it up and sending me home, these days they've taken to draining and then padding the affected area. I then have to change the dressing on a daily basis until the wound heals - which it does usually within a week or two. I recently visited the hospital to have yet another one drained to be told that this one keeps appearing in the same place as following the healing process I should have gone back into hospital to have the gland removed. Having been to see a consultant at the hospital today to get myself booked in for the surgery, he informed me that they were not sebaceous cysts but in fact I have Hidradenitis? Having googled images my problem definitely looks more like sebaceous cysts and nothing like Hidradenitis? Although they do seem to appear when my stress levels are through the roof, I have never suffered with any rash or itchiness. Would the surgery be the same for both problems? How do I know which one it is I truly have? Confused.com





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I have had this condition for many years with no real improvement. I manage my condition but would love for it to improve. Tips on this website on managing the condition and a forum to talk to other sufferers: www.hs-support.ml





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Hi Heather - Can I ask? What are nightshades?





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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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