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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.

Hi I've suffered from this condition since I was pregnant with my first child at 16 , my arm pits are badly scared and had a few on my groin got raw ones under my arm pits at the moment and I'm constantly wearing plasters all the time I've got another one at the minuite size of a golf ball so very very painful !! :( all doctors have done is throw antibiotics at me to which have no effect now :( wish someone had answers





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Ive had 3 lumps like this in my groin recently so im only guessing i have this Condition. But at 30 years old im thinkin why ami getting this now? Yes im over weight so i know its not helping. Nervous about goin to the doctors incase they dont know what im talking about but even worse that they confirm i have it. Ive been putting plasters over the lumps which help but i cant live like this





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I had it for years, spent many appointments with specialists telling me I was just sweaty because quite often by the time you get an appointment it has cleared up. I discovered the cause of mine was the contraceptive pill. When I stoppped taking it they dissapeared instantly. Then I had my son and as soon as he was born they came back. I have had my hormones tested and they came back fine. I know its hormonal bit i cant prove it. I had heard its related to sugar intake but cant tell yet.





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I've suffered with HS constantly for 19 years since I was 13. I've had steriod creams, antibiotics, all sorts of drugs, I've had so many lumpectomies (lumps cut out) even had the glands removed from my armpits and groin. I feel like Frankenstein with all my scars. I used to get them sometimes the size of golf balls until I was told by my friend to try Tumeric. I've been using Tumeric for 6 years, I take 1 capsule in morning and 1 at night and it has changed my life. I haven't needed an operation since. I still have it but the abscesses never get bigger then pea size. I have finally managed to lead a normal life. I'm gonna try this nappy rash cream (metanium) idea too to see if that helps





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I was diagnosed with HS when I was 21 (27 now) but before I seen a doctor, I had flare up under my arms but was way to embarrassed to tell anyone. I thought I was dying or something, until it got to the point that I needed a doctor because the pain was too much. Luckily I have an amazing support team. My family and friends help me as much as they can. Because suffering from this disease is hard and you need someone there to help you . depression is very common to have dealing with HS. I've almost given up a million times. Now I'm a mother, and before having my son my condition was horrible, but during my pregnancy it got 100x worse. I'm affected under both armpits, groin, buttocks, breasts, and lower stomach. It's not just abscesses, it's holes now. No matter how much medicine I take, how much I wash the areas nothing helps. A week after having my son I couldn't walk, I could barley hold him. It was extremely heartbreaking. Then a month later I was hospitalized for 4 days. It didn't help. Nothing helps. I'm lucky to have a fiance that helps me. He helps wash my areas I can't see, he helps dressing my wounds, and even dresses me when I'm unable. It breaks my heart knowing there are others out there like me that suffers with this diease, because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.





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Hey Candra- I have been suffering from HS for at least 12 years now. I have found this website- while reading on HS- which i haven't tried but it looks promising. http://primalgirl.com/category/hidradenitis-suppurativa-3/ It talks about the diet control that one can do to control HS. Don't leave hope- its so good to hear that you have a great support system and together we can fight HS and live much much better lives. Cheers :) :)

Thank you so much Harry. I'll make sure to look into it. Every little bit helps. :)

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I've had this condition since the age of 13. I had to learn to control the controllable. At the end of the day we are still beautiful human beings. Some of you are blessed to have a spouse who sees past those scars and straight to you heart. Don't worry about the people who judge you before knowing the condition or the story behind it. They don't deserve to have your company in the first place. Live, laugh, love yourself... That includes our scars.





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Anyone had babies when they've has HS? I have never had a pap smear or anything like that, as I'm to embarressed about my scarring. I'm overweight, so I can just see it now - the DR telling me how fat I am and being shocked at all my scarring on my thighs/pubic area. My question is - how do you deal with the embarresment/warn the Dr?





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Honestly, Marilyn. Getting a good PAP result is so worth the embarrassment BUT most doctors are professionals and they want you to get better. They look at you clinically, like here's my specimen and what can I do with it now type of thing. I was so fearful of sharing any of my health issues but with the encouragement of a friend, I went to see a doctor after years of avoiding them and it is worth the sense of relief. You may not get the doctor that is right for you straight away but you have to go and see them and just discuss your fears about the PAP and your insecurity about your scars. Just make an appointment to go in and talk about it. I always go to a female doctor for PAPs. I lost my doctor after 15 years with her and her husband and I am looking for a new one and have tried out three that are good doctors but none that I have clicked with yet but in the meantime, I have someone I can see when I need to. The PAP only takes a few minutes honestly. Please let me know how your talk goes with the doc. Most docs have online reviews too that you can get a general sense of their bedside manner.

I'm sorry you feel this way. I was in the same boat. Just really embarrassed. But I eventually got to the point where I couldn't handle the pain. my griond and buttocks was bothering me. Very embarrassing. But I realized that even though it's personal the people who help you look past the areas and just want to help you get relief. I guess in the end the relief is worth the embarrassment. Good luck.

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Hi I had suffered with this condition for 30 years now. I once visited a dermatologist who told be to come back when I had a flare up! Well trying to get a hospital appointment so quickly is impossible, therefore over the years I have just put up with them. Within the last 3 weeks I have had a particularly bad flare having 5, always in my groin. This time I actually felt physicaly unwell with a temperature. Has anyone ever tried Turmeric and zinc, if so did this help? Also how do you take the turmeric? Any advise would be so appreciated. Thank you inadvance.





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Hi. I use magnesium tablets. I have only just heard about tumeric, so I'd be interested to hear if it works. I also use a barrier cream (sudocrem- also called healing cream)for my grown as I find my underwear can rub and make it worse. The cream has zinc in it and is designed for pressure sores/nappy rash. So I find it helps my wounds heal quicker than usual, but it also sooths the area and helps to ease the rubbing when you have a flare up

At first I thought its a symptom of HIV because it kept coming. Antibiotics uses to work for me but I relised constant use of it can cause liver diseases. Now trying alternative medicine. But all along iv had the fear its HIV symptom. This site has been so helpful. I'm in Accra, Ghana. All the most doctors here would precribe is antibiotics or suspect you with HIV. Now I know I'm not alone. Making my own research on alternative medicine and would update soon.





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I understand the fear you faced. Some folks scars look like Kaposi's sarcoma legions because they are dark and sometimes raised. Educate your doctor. I diagnosed myself in the 90s when some of the best specialists in the field did not know what it was called. My quality of life has not improved but it was comforting at the time to know that the disease was not my fault or due to hygiene. I was showering 3x a day and the abscesses just kept popping up. Be well.

I have know I've had this since the 5th grade (26) now. It's terrible and embarrassing. I blame it for not ever having a relationship and depression issues. The only thing that has helped me is loose clothing and epsom salt baths twice a week and epsom salt lotion twice a day applied to. The areas. ( armpits, inner thigh and groin) it's a constant struggle and no help from drs ever ! I think treatment is different for everyone because everyone's bodies are different. I feel like genetics may have something to do with it too. My dad had or has it but I've always been too embarrased to talk about it. I feel comforted I'm not alone!





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I know how you feel. I have always broken up relationships when we approached intimacy because of my fear of rejection. I have depression and low self-esteem too. Doctors can only do so much. You have to mail and talk to your politicians to let them know that this disease needs attention because people living with it are suffering. Having open flesh is exposed and feeling like your skin is being scalded with hot water every day or stabbed with a sharp hot iron is not a way for any person to live, let alone the millions of us who have to live with it. Doe snot matter what country you are in. Send a letter to your local health minister and your local representative. If we can get funding for research studies then we can maybe figure out the cause and find a cure. But we need to get people talking about it.





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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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