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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.

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
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 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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To all those who have commented on this I feel your pain. I must have had my first boil when I was 16 and intermittently thereafter. I am now 52 and for the last 10 years or so started to get these under my arms and in my groin and bum areas. Nothing has helped, nothing and am still trying different things. I have had them cut out, lanced, drained, antibiotics, had an operation but still nothing makes them go away permanently. I do not have one a day but there is about 6 a day. All I want is it wake up one day without pain. They say sometimes it is hormonal and I did notice that before my menstrual period I used to get them monthly. I also think now since I have not had any symptoms of menopause, this is my bod reacting to my menopause. Could somebody respond and advise and would there be a possibility of treating this case if it is menopausal





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have had this condition for 45 years the only time I didnt get these boils was when I was having kemo for lung cancer

I have HS since I was 18, I am now 22. It got so bad and more severe I am getting sent for surgery, but just seen a Stephen wasn't enough as he thought it was more severe so if sent me to a plastic surgeon. Now I have to have an operation and get skin grafts done along with removing my sweat glands which are the cause of it. Finally after four years it's getting sorted.





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Hi My name is Cathy price I have been suffering with this problem since I was a teen an I had one surgery under my underarms and it slightly came back and in my growing area it is very painful I'm trying to get help again from a plastic Sargent that's in Chicago .I'm having problems finding one if anyone can help me I would be very grateful.thank you.

I'm 24 and I have dealing with HS since I was 20. I get them on my inner thighs and chest. It saddens me that there isn't much support out there for HS sufferers. The pain and size of the cysts/ ruptures cause me difficulty to walk weeks at a time, I have difficulty sitting and lying down. The open wounds are quite horrific and dressing them can be unbearable. It took a year to be diagnosed, I've been discharged from my dermatologist for what reason I do not know. I feel they do not know enough, more research needs to be done. Just prescribing antibiotics and ointments isn't enough. I suffer from depression as a result of this condition, it can be very difficult staying positive when you receive little help or support. It's an endless cycle.





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I to have this problem I get about 6 at least a month I have scars under my arm pits I get them under my boobs on my bum and my lips down stairs and get really painfull at times I have been to the docs a number of times but all I get is antibiotics that dont work I been suffering from thwn for about 20 years now would love something done about them as drive me crazy





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Hey, I'm 20 years old and I'm not sure exactly whether this is what I have, I've been the the doctors multiple times around a large lump on the inside of both legs! They are filled with lumps and scars and cysts and boils appear often, but are never big enough to be drained or anything, they give me a course of anti-biotics and send me on my way, but the large lumps never go away! So the cysts and boils just keep appearing, this affects me in day to day life, I can't wear shorts because you can see the lumps, I don't like to wear dresses or anything tightly fitted as they can be seen also, they say it's because I'm over weight, yes this could be major factor, but no diet seems to help they tried me with tablets to aid losing weight they also didn't work, I also suffer with boils and cysts under my arms and under my breasts, I was sent to a consultant and they treated it as acne and then after a year of treatment they have discharged me, when they get bad I can't get any clothes that don't rub against them in any area, It's really getting me down now and don't sure what to do next





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dont feel alone i am going trough this same probblem

I Know Exactly what you are going through. I get them in my inner theighs,Butt,and all the folds around my legs. I no longer wear panties because I CANT... I do where cotton tights under my jeans or slacks.I doesnt move around and it protects me from the material of jean.. Its been a great help you should try it!!

I have had this condition for years not only is it painful, it affects my sex life





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What sex life? I'm 50 and started getting the odd large boil at the top of my leg when I was 23 and pregnant. I've only ever had them intermittently and not really been affected too badly until recently....I have gone through menopause and now have many in my groin area....I couldn't bear to have sex with my partner...it's just too embarrassing :-(

I have seen a LOT of people have success in treating HS by adhering to autoimmune protocol paleo diet. It's quite strict, and I've not been able to do it for long enough. Please, check it out!





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I have been seeing my doctor for at least the past three years for abcesses and cysts. Each time i have been given antibiotics (which do not seem to work anymore) and painkillers. I researched myself why i kept on getting these and the answer came back as HS. Armed with this i went to my doctor and explained my research and was told the abcesses,boils and cysts i had were not severe enough for the HS condition. When i have a flare up i am housebound as i can not bear anything touching against them, i think this is severe enough. I have put the condition down to severe stress, my son took his own life and it has been since then that i have suffered. Anyway i made an appointment with the Drs and got a Dr who i dont normally see and found he listened to me and reffered me to a dermatologist. I had my appointment today and have officially been diagnosed with HS. I am aware that the condition is not 100% treatable but can be manageable. I am hopeful and keeping everything crossed that i will be able to manage this condition through lotions and potions!!!!!





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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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