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





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