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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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OMG I wana cry I've not been diognosed but I've been suffering for 13 yrs I'm 29 yrs old I've had 4 ops in 12 months and yrs and yrs of antibiotics I get these massive boils that leak constantly in my groin I use to get them on my face but I take lymicycline and it stopped it in its tracks on my face but if I stop taking them it comes back within the week 😧 it then moved to my groin I feel so lonely and depressed and angry all the time cause I'm in constant pain can't walk properly can't sleep or sit with my legs shut can't take my kids swimming pool running around is a big no no sitting on the floor to play with my kids as it's too painful to get so low on the ground and getting up with closing my legs makes my eyes water just thinking bout it I feel trapped 😢😢😢 I'm a young mum who just want my life back 😢😢😢 I'm going back to my docs tomorrow as I'm convinced that I have HS





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You should go to the doctors and try not to feel alone - its a terrible condition and people who don't suffer dont realise the pain and the paranoia it can cause. I originally suffered from them in my groin area, I remember having one so large when I was pregnant I actually couldn't walk, I used to cover them with dressings and eventually they would drain but would soon fill up again....and the pan was terrible but funnily enough I could cope with the pain, it was the way it made me feel and still does - its takes your confidence away completely.....Mines have moved to my underarms which are constantly weeping large boils and smell, people comment on how I always wear black and this is the reason why. I have recently ordered Manuka Honey which I have heard is good - I will let you know how I get on....take care

I know it is depressing. Please try the elimination gaps diet it helps to find out what your eating that your reacting to! it is most likely wheat or corn starch and night shades are another one" not eating process food helps a ton! kombucha is a fermented drink and it helps tons too! Iam just getting over a break out from eating wheat and it almost killed me with the pain and suffering. I have been doing essential oils also and its really good:) but I think the more you stress the worse it gets SO JUST try hard to de- stress.

I do agree with those hear saying that antibiotics are not the answer, I first tried them as a treatment for my HS when I was diagnosed in my late teens and I have tried them over the years now and then since and I can say they did nothing for me, not to say it wont work for others but did nothing for me. Also for those asking about turmeric it is usually administered as a oral supplement, at least thats how I take it. Look up websites like http://curehidradenitissuppurativanow.com as they go into more detail about it individually and also recommend other treatments such as tea tree oil etc. You can get turmeric supplements from most health shops.





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Lawrence - thanks for your somewhat abrupt advise - I am assuming that you found out diet was the cause due to trial and error and not because you are a qualified doctor.....to everyone else, thanks for your comments - its nice to know we do not suffer alone and the advise on lifestyle and diet will be taken on-board, in the mean-time while I agree that antibiotics are not the answer they help with the swelling and pain until I find another solution. Good luck guys - I will let you know how I get on with my medical Manuka Honey when it arrives.





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I have suffered for about 9 years now and they seem to be getting worse - I can handle the pain although it becomes so bad at times that I cant put my arms down properly but the scarring and weeping and the smell is really embarassing - I worry because it seems to be spreading and I do not know what to do to stop it. I have tried taking long term antibiotics but my arms wept constantly. I have recently ordered Manuka Honey - has anyone tried this??





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STOP TAKING ANTIBIOTICS!!! it has nothing to do with a bacterial infection. it is your body producing too much melanin because you're in toxic shock from a lack of proper food and nutrition. inflammatory skin condition caused by inflamed bowels. i've basically fixed myself. i only get recurrences when i eat the wrong things or smoke too much in a day. its the result of our immune systems not functioning properly due to our guts being poisoned.

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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its completely diet related from what i have found and smoking seems to also aggravate the symptoms possibly. since i have made sure to stay away from processed foods and mainly mass produced wheat and dairy products the conditions have basically completely gone. only get recurrences when i eat the wrong things again. immune system stuff i think. inflammatory skin condition as the result of inflamed bowels it seems.

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.





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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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