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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 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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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?

So after my experiment with nightshades it seems nightshades are my trigger. I ate pizza and woke up with a couple of new lumps & bumps, i ate crisps for the same effect. I'm waving goodbye to them now. Its only been a couple of weeks but here's hoping......i hope everyone reading these comments gets some hope whether it be nightshade nightmares, smoking, weight loss - good luck x





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I've had HS for 10 years, had 2 operations, it came back, tried antibiotics, no help, even tried steroid injections, hasn't worked either. But what I have come to realise is that its defiantly to do with diet and hormones. I lost some weight and it was bearable for 8 months. I stopped smoking and put he weight back on and bam...its back again, painful boils under my arms. I will try loose the weight again and see what difference this will make and I'm sure it will. By the way I also have Polycystic Overies. I wonder if this is a factor in this horrible disease.





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Ive had HS which started in the groin area and over 20 yrs spread to the underarms, under my breasts (small cysts)and recently had really bad one on the backside. I had to phone andtake holidays many times due to this as it was causing me high sickness never mind a lot of pain and sickness over the yrs. I too have polycystic ovaries and I felt that this triggered the condition. Seems though that the Dr's know this already. Im 39 and asked for a hysterectomy in a bid to cure both conditions and was refused - ps I am unable to have children hence this request.

I've just been diagnosed with this beast, suffered the odd bump & got co-amoxiclav every time. When i kept getting them i was sent to dermatology where they diagnosed HS. This process took a couple of years, i'm 38. They are getting more numerous, bigger, more painful. I get my lumps n bumps in my groin. The more i read the more i'm convinced diet can help more than anti-biotics. Going to cut nightshades, which flare my IBS & take it from there. Its awful :-( good luck everyone in your own battle x





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I sympathize with anyone suffering from HS. I have suffered with this for over a year now and it is severe in my groin. The pain is unbearable and had had a huge knock on effect in my relationships, work life and now my relationship with my young daughter. Has anyone had any success in defeating this demon yet? I really need help as antibiotics are just not working.





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I have hidradenitis Suppurativa - had it for over 30 years, Doctors did not have a name for it so i reseached it myself. the doctors had me on Tetracycaline for 4 years which did not help. i use Dial bacteria soap and a spice called Tumeric - i take the tumeric as soon as i feel it coming on and the boils never come to form. trust me it works! J

I have hs I got diagnosed around 3 years now and i am 38 been to my local gp and he just gives me anti biotic everytime I feel like a walking chemist I dont know why my previous gp didnt diagnosis me with hs before now I have had blood tests cos there is diabetes on my family side and I have got to go for regular check up can some please help me cos sometimes the hs is really annoying when I can't get to sleep thanks if anyone can help





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I have had this in my ground and arm pits for about 15 years I have found that soaking in a hot tub with 2 cups Epsom Salts 1 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup peroxide helps I have several in both arm pits for the last 4 days Soaked in the tub 3 times and they broke open which relieves the pressure It is miserable and I don't even bother with Dr's anymore I also was with Hibicleanse and I never wear deodorant I always carry alcohol wipes to clean up if I need to But deodorant is a sure breakout for me





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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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