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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 have had this since I was 17. I get them primarily under my arms. I am 26 now and feel fortunate that I can count on one hand the amount I've gotten on my lower areas. I also have a kidney condition which they always said one comes with the other. So getting treated is a bit harder. I lance them myself. It can be painful but in the long run it helps me get through the work day.





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Hi I suffer with these every week so painfull I get them under my arm in my groin on my stomach the ones on my legs an groin go the size of tennis balls and are very painfull these are so embarrassing theres only certain people I tell I have 1,2,3,4 at the same time it gets to the point I cant shut my legs, these are also affectining my work life because I'm always off work I'm only 31 but with these the way they are I dont even want to reach 32





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I feel you all's pain...mines started when I was 16 on my groin..I didn't know what was going on but when the dermatologist told me what the condition was I looked it up but I still didn't understand it..now I'm 26 and just last summer I got them under my arm and the smell is horrible and they bother so much...is really embarrassing and depressing..I just want this to go away!!





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I can relate, I've had this problem for over ten years and it has always been so embarrassing. Not only do I get them on my groin but under my arms as well as my butt cheeks are full of scars. I was hoping to come on this site and see a solution to my problem but I guess there's not much hope at this point. It is comforting knowing that I'm not alone tho, thanks for the comfort.





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I need some advice on how to manage these boils, they have become so bad I find it hard to walk- today black puss came out of one of the biggest boil I have ever had and it smelt cheesy. This condition is so embarrassing I have boils in my groin area, around my legs, under my bikini line, under my arms, I also have random ones appear on my blobs and stoma but and the doctors don't really help me, I'm glad I'm not going through this alone.





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When it becomes hard/uncomfortable to walk it's usually time to see a dermatologist and have the cyst injected or "destroyed". I try to wear loose fitted shorts and no underwear (having anything rub against the cyst is the worst pain). My dermatologist told me that soaking them in the early stages can help a bit too. Unfortunately these cysts are stubborn for whatever reason... Who wants to have something like this during the summer?!? I'd like to be able to wear normal bikini bottoms like everyone else instead of stupid swim shorts.

This condition is also something I suffer with daily and have suffered with since a teenager. It started on my inner thighs and groin and then under my arms. After having children they began showing up under my breast and on my stomach. I find that they flare around ovulation or mensuration. I have mostly just dealt with them because of embarrassment until I read a pintrest post a girl had done about boil acne. She simply mixed cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey it is sticky and messy but is the best thing to get bad, red, inflamed boils to start healing. I use this as a scrub in areas that are inflamed or a mask then shower after letting it sit a while. I also saw something about exfoliation in the areas that are problematic so I take a facial scrub sponge from Walmart and use a gentle face cleanser like the brand Simple and exfoliate all areas using the face cleanser because it removes the oils and exfoliated the dead skin from the pore. These 2 things have kept mine in check. I also gave up coke and began eating whole foods with very limited junk. I also take zinc daily because it helps with the immune system also thought to be linked to this condition and magnesium to help reduce inflammation in my body since starting this my condition has stayed relatively in control unfortunately if I stop more then 3 days of supplements or 1 day of exfoliation I usually will have a flare up. Hope these tips help

I have been suffering from HS for 3 years now and have tried all sorts of antibotics and stopped going to a dermatologist as it was a waste of time and money. I know there is no cure but can anyone help with tips on management





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I have had HS for a couple of years now and was only diagnosed as i had to tell the doctor what it was. I am on strong tablets and have been put on 2000mg of penicillin a day, for a weeks trial, it has helped but still so painful. I have been thinking about the laser hair removal as it has seemed to help some people and it seems a less painful procedure. just so glad im not the only one suffering with this extremely painful and embarrassing condition.





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To all those who have commented on this I feel your pain. I must have had my first boil when I was 16 and intermittently thereafter. I am now 52 and for the last 10 years or so started to get these under my arms and in my groin and bum areas. Nothing has helped, nothing and am still trying different things. I have had them cut out, lanced, drained, antibiotics, had an operation but still nothing makes them go away permanently. I do not have one a day but there is about 6 a day. All I want is it wake up one day without pain. They say sometimes it is hormonal and I did notice that before my menstrual period I used to get them monthly. I also think now since I have not had any symptoms of menopause, this is my bod reacting to my menopause. Could somebody respond and advise and would there be a possibility of treating this case if it is menopausal





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have had this condition for 45 years the only time I didnt get these boils was when I was having kemo for lung cancer

I have HS since I was 18, I am now 22. It got so bad and more severe I am getting sent for surgery, but just seen a Stephen wasn't enough as he thought it was more severe so if sent me to a plastic surgeon. Now I have to have an operation and get skin grafts done along with removing my sweat glands which are the cause of it. Finally after four years it's getting sorted.





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Hi My name is Cathy price I have been suffering with this problem since I was a teen an I had one surgery under my underarms and it slightly came back and in my growing area it is very painful I'm trying to get help again from a plastic Sargent that's in Chicago .I'm having problems finding one if anyone can help me I would be very grateful.thank you.

I'm 24 and I have dealing with HS since I was 20. I get them on my inner thighs and chest. It saddens me that there isn't much support out there for HS sufferers. The pain and size of the cysts/ ruptures cause me difficulty to walk weeks at a time, I have difficulty sitting and lying down. The open wounds are quite horrific and dressing them can be unbearable. It took a year to be diagnosed, I've been discharged from my dermatologist for what reason I do not know. I feel they do not know enough, more research needs to be done. Just prescribing antibiotics and ointments isn't enough. I suffer from depression as a result of this condition, it can be very difficult staying positive when you receive little help or support. It's an endless cycle.





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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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