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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

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I also suffer from hs in the groin area and have for about 4 yrs now. It started for me after startng methotrexate for my psoriatic arthritis which is itself an auto immune disease. I am not sure if this actually caused it but its a coincidence, the medication shuts my immune sytsem down and then bam! I am currently participating in a trial of a drug that is similiar to humor's and it honestly isn't helping me, if anything the cysts are getting bigger than ever. However I have fond one thing that seems to help by bringing the hard core like white puss to the surface so you can get it out and empty that cyst. Its smelly but who cares, its called ichthammol ointment and you can get it cheap at any pharmacy. I have been applying it at night everywhere I have breakouts. You are supposed to apply to guaze and then tape on. I wash it off in the morning with cetaphil antibacterial soap and after showering while skin is soft I attempt to drain them. Then I clean the areas again. This is the only thing that has even remotely helped me and hopefully it will help others





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Can I give blood if I have Hidradenitis suppurativa





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Hi everyone, I'm sorry to hear how bad some of you are feeling. I have had HS for 14 years now, I was diagnosed about 13 years ago. Initially I was given the usual antibiotics which work temporarily but the lumps came back with a vengeance. I also had one cyst/boil/lump/whatever you want to call it removed. Over the years I have found that I am intolerant to various foods (tomatos, coffee, sulfurous veggies and more!) and also have been diagnosed with IBS, also Fibromyalgia and Sjogren's syndrome (auto immune) in the last 6 years so have had a lot going on but this has meant that I have done a lot of research (due to lack of doctor knowledge and help available) and have tried eating and NOT eating lots of different things! Personally I now avoid gluten and lactose which helps me in a number of ways. I really believe that turmeric can be helpful for some, it is worth trying but for me it gave me an upset stomach. The reason it is probably helpful is because it is anti inflammatory, fortunately there are many ways to reduce inflammation (and toxicity). The problem is that antibiotics do adjust the bacteria, yes they kill off the bad ones but they also kill off the good. It is therefore really important to get quality probiotics and put back in the good. Also, as someone else said, you really do have to reduce sugar intake as much as possible. Apart from the obvious, no fizzy drinks, reduce alcohol, also yeast, eat as naturally as possible and read labels. I use stevia instead of sugar to sweeten things up. I gave up fruit initially but have now added it back in without flare up so far! Also reduce things such as potatos, white bread and pasta which turn into sugar in the gut whilst providing minimal nutrients. I believe this was a turning point for me. If you are struggling please also try avoiding peppers, they along with potatos and sugar are the worst for me and will guarantee a nasty flare! Nowadays (touch wood!) I am not in pain very often, my lumps are almost flat (with little holes in them) now and have been for a few years. They flare up hormonally (less I can do about that!) but nowhere near as much as they used to when they left me in so much pain that I couldn't walk, a lot of you know how that feels. I also only wear cotton underwear (boypants, you don't want anything rubbing in that area and wear soft cotton bras that do not dig in), and stick to loose clothing when I'm at home. I still carefully clean the areas each night with Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution and there is a cream (a topical antibiotic - I'd rather keep antibiotics on the outside so this is a better option!) from the Doctors which I use monthly if I have a slight flare called trimovate. Unfortunately this has become impossible to get hold, it seems that the Lab have not been making it for a number of months now so if anyone who can help reads this, please can someone follow this up and find out why it's not currently being made, it is really useful for HS sufferers! I also wonder if coconut oil would help, it's anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and all natural. I have used it on my acne and it helped enormously but haven't needed to try it on my HS yet. Epsom salt baths help too, they are relaxing, de-toxifying and can calm the skin down too. I really hope that something here will be helpful to someone, I just wish that the Doctor's knew some of this and were able to offer healthy suggestions. I think that your body is telling you to re-think how you live your life and what you put into it, it's like a warning sign going off. I believe that getting stressed (hard to avoid sometimes in life) and angry can cause flares too but of course there is a lot more to it than that! Try to be kind to yourself, eat well, sleep well and try some of the things above, please. Know that it will take time but is worth it. Honestly I thought I was 'stuck' with it for the rest of my life but the improvements have been amazing so I really hope someone reads this and it helps!





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Hi Karen! I finally feel like someone knows how I feel! I have had a hard time having my HS diagnosed, after also having an anal fistula and IBS and pilonidal sinus. I thought I would never find any relief, but I have had an allergy test due to breaking out in hives, and I tested positive for allergy to wheat, egg white, milk and corn (maize).This at 27 years of age! Apparently we can develop allergies as adults, and a host of problems followed... After trial and error and many despondent and frustrating, desperate times, I realised it must all be connected, as my HS, IBS, headaches, irritability,brain fog almost disappeared and my skin didnt feel so swollen, red and inflamed if I avoided the above food. Basically, with my knowledge of immunology and physiology, it makes sense to me like this: your body makes antibodies to fight against allergens, which then cross-react with receptors on your own body's cells. Your immune system is activated, and aims to remove the "allergen" it recognises. Inflammation is then present. I began reading up about the paleo diet for inflammation and immune conditions. I noticed an improvement and my IBS, HS, muscle and joint pain, seizures etc etc were all improving once I stopped eating sugar, all processed foods, tomatoes, peppers, potato (veggies called nightshades/ autoflowering), wheat, grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, corn/-starch.These are the foods I have avoided so far, and I plan to discover more and find relief! Also, look out for any product containing high fructose corn syrup(you'll be AMAZED which foods they put this poison in, and why!) I am positive, that I can be healthy, and feel happy continuing on this lifestyle of eating. It's not even hard,because the benefits are amazing!Anyone with HS will do anything to have relief of this debilitating disease. It's weird how an auto immune disease like HS flares up... I can notice new boils a DAY and often HOURS after eating the wrong foods. Nowadays, it is frustrating that so many people suffer from these diseases, and the pathophysiology and the interconnection between our limbic system, gut and organs(on cellular level) in these diseases are so poorly understood. The progression of the disease often happens due to the delay in diagnosis and it's so poorly understood that extensive testing is needed to find out which foods can cause a flare up. I am glad I could share my story, I hope I could help someone as confused, frustrated and desperate as I was, even a little bit ;)

I have just been told i have HS and it is really painfull i am taking antibiotics, but they dont help with the pain, i also have chrones diease which i have been told that hs is one off symptoms, my heart goes out for all you people who has hs.i live on morphine based tablets and they dont get rid off the pain can anyone tell me which pain killer works.





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The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Trust can offer support and advice to HS patients. www.hstrust.org





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I can't take this anymore.😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😖😖😖😖😫😫😫😫😫😫😥😥😥😥😥😥 Its embarrassing for a aspiring 26 yr old model.. there has to be cure. OMG someone pls help. I don't even have sex life anymore. I'm nervous about explaining to my partner/bf/hubby/whoever why I have this. Hell Beyonce don't have this issue. Please someone,anyone.HELP





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I've had HS for 35 years I've tried it all ,had surgeries, changed my diet, seen specialists , taken all sorts of antibiotics you name it I've tried it . Nothing has worked . I hear humera is being approved as a new option has anyone tried it yet?





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Have you tried the Paleo diet? I was thinking of starting that one? Did it not work for you?

Yes I have tried it and no it didn't work I've also tried several different diets and have not had tge results I was hoping for

I am embarrassed as I keep getting these boils in my groin :-/ I really honestly don't want to see the doctor as it is embarrassing. Can anyone help me with what I can do to either drain myself and find a cream maybe to stop them hurting?





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





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