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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 suffer with cysts under my breasts and look to have symptoms of HS under my arms and between my thighs. I am in a lot of pain when both flare up. I have been to my GP many times and have been tested for diabeties. MRSA. White blood cell counts. Immunity the lot. They have all come back negative. I an using an antibacterial wash which doesnt seem to help. My GP told me there is nothing he can do and wont refer me to dermatologist. HELP i dont know what else to do......how did you get operations and treatment?





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Hi fellow suffers I have had HS for many years. I have had every antibiotic under the sun, loads of operations ,and gone past the menopause but still get these horrid things.It got so bad I even lost my job due to having HS. The only thing I do now is sit in a hot bath for as long as I can and try to burst them....





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I have suffered with HS for years now but more recently I got a boil right on the line where the leg meets the groin (where the undies line goes) it seemed to go down without bursting and left and black and blue scar. but now when i press on where it was or if my undies rub hard of that part i get a severe burning feeling that runs through. Im scared ot burst inside because the pain is excrutiating when pressure is put on it. Can anyone help?





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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 know exactly how you feel im 32 an suffer with them under my arm legs groin and stomach and they are so painful keep being told I need to loose weight due to this plus a bad knee polysistic overies which make it harder to lose weight and now I have rosacea on my face to and I feel crap

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





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