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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 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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I have had this since I was 13 now 30. Been to lots of specialist, finally went private and was told I had this. First in armpits which I had an operation on, then appeared under my breast and now groin. Same as mandy above. No one really understands the actual pain they cause. I am sick of it now.





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From what I've read online myself I've had this since I was 13 like Jess, been reading up on it recently and apparently it starts due to puberty. I was actually hospitalised the first one so it could be drained because it was so large and I've been getting them every cycle since if not more often. I'm 19 now and have just been getting on with it, kinda ignoring it because it is quite embarrassing. Keeping clean hair wise has helped me a little, from regularly shaving to now waxing.. I've heard laser hair removal helps some people so I'll try to get that. It's pretty useless how doctors are as clueless as I am. It's a hard condition to live with.. makes you really self conscious and stuff. Hope it can get sorted soon because I'm rather fed up with it





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Well i have had HS long before the name at least i didnt know its name,u can say like everyone else its been a long battle for myself as well,antibiotics,surgery,soaps,soaking,they still come back its been 29 years for myself,i thought about accutane,my dermatigist said not good for me since i am as well,a diabetic,he suggested Humira,but my insurance denied me,so at this moment im feelung very down,the antibiotics started to affect my liver,so right now i am doing panoxyl soap, a cream clindamycin/benzoyl mix,it is not the best but its all i have at the moment,and i understand everyone on here and your pain,i have used myself as a guinnea pig to help the research,the only thing that really gave me a little comfort eas when they cut them open and drained them,but after a few of that the insurance refused to pay,so im back to the startng point,keeping faith,so all of you out there keep your heads up God is listening to our prayers,and i go thru this all the time more than have of my life believe me they are working to find some way to at least make ud a little more comfortable,i know i have volunteered as their guinnea pig, so i truly understand your pain ,and to the young person who hasnt told their parent they believe they have HS, my advice tell them so you csn get some help early,with this you never know where or when it will strike your family,doctors ate your best support system,you need them,Good Luck and God bless you all!!





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I have this since I was 18, I am now 30 I have had 5 major surgeries in the last 8 months and because of this social security just approach ed me. Idk how things for you all in UK but its work a try. Like many of you I've tries cleansing, multiple antibiotics, and plenty were drained. Currently the only thing helping was surgery. Now that I've had surgery in my problem area(underarms) it spreaded to my groin. Keep the faith its a long ride. Swimming helps and any type of chlorine bath.

I have been diagnosed with HS - stagr 2 condition. I have beem on erythromycin gor previohs 3 months and had no flare ups in this time. Howver yesterday noticef that the boil under my breast was starting to flare up again. Today it is extremely painful to touch. Has the erythromycin stopped working?, what ither treatments are effective ? I had no flare ups whilst pregnant or when breast feeding which suggests going on oral contraception like yasmin may help. Any positive stories please.





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Im on Remacade Infusions. I go to a infusion clinic and gt hooked up to a I Drip for 4hrs every 6weeks.... I will say there has been a huge difference but I stil get them. I wish it was something to make to go away an stay away!!!!

Hello, I have suffered from Hidradenitis solely in the groin for approximately 8 years. My physician diagnosed it shortly after stage 1 lesions started to appear. I was referred to a dermatologist who prescribed NUMEROUS antibiotics. I personally had NO success with any of the prescribed medications. The disease continued to progress and in 2011 I had my first sinus tract/wound that refused to heal. Unfortunately my Dr was away during this time and the physician I saw disagreed that it was HS. He stated it was a simple sebaceous cyst and once he removes it, thats it. I went through with the surgery and the day after the stitches were removed the wound was open again. I continued to trial countless prescriptions from the dermatologists though I have always and will always refuse Accutane. Last year I progressed to stage 3. The suggested next steps are invasive. I have done research on more natural ways to keep the disease under control and have been using this as my way of treating the disease. I have had no positive effects from any of the prescriptions I have received. For some of the other sufferers posting in here I would like to give you MY ways of dealing with the pain, and oozing. These are things I have found helpful this past year while being off ALL pharmaceutical medications. -As a woman menstruation usually makes it worse and pads cause A LOT of irritation. I use LunaPads they are cloth and reusable. DEFINITELY worth the cost. -For gauze I use InterDry with Antimicrobial Silver -Topically I use 100% pure organic tea tree oil, organic witch hazel, organic coconut oil, cannabis oil and raw organic gold honey. I bath/shower and ensure my skin is dry before applying witch hazel.. i let that dry then i apply tea tree oil. Later in the day I apply the mixture of coconut oil, cannabis oil and honey. I find applying it at night it best as it doesn't get rubbed off on clothing. -2-3x a week a have a 30-60 minute bath in a tub full of water with 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup baking soda,1 cup epsom salts.. (along with at least one shower every day) I have had a very hard time finding a Dr who is willing to understand the pain that this disease truly causes. Most seem to see the superficial wound and assume that is where the pain is. This is NOT true. The pain for me anyways, extends to what seems the "core" of the area affected. There is superficial pain but the internal pain from the tunnelling is what I find most unbearable (once it has broken open of course, pressure pain from a filling abscess is a whole other story). In my opinion if taking a more natural substance proves beneficial over synthetic substances that is the ideal route. Some people find triggers in their diets but I have never found one. I do know that stress plays a HUGE role in the progression of the disease (for me). Menstruation also triggers new active lesions (for me). Tight clothing and certain materials cause irritation so I have had to be careful with that. I also KNOW hair follicles play a role in my case. I've been able to tweeze what seemed to be the size of a micron of a hair and have it come out to be nearly 2 inches in length without ANY pain or sensation. That lesion "deflated" never opened and never came back.. So in my opinion laser hair removal is probably a good preventative measure in cases such as the axillary, groin and buttocks. That is my two cents.. Hopefully it can help some people. :)





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Hi. Reading ur comments I can really relate to. I am suffering the same as yourself and would love some more info on natural remedy. I am sick of having this, the pain it causes. Thanks

I am 15 years old and I believe I have hs, i havnt told my mum because I'm so embarrassed. I've Had it for about 2 years, it's so sore is there a cure?





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Please talk to you mum,remember she hasn't always been old,lol. I know its hard to talk to people especially parents bout it but you will probably feel a bit better and as a mum myself i know she will support you as much as she can. I wish i could tell you that there is a cure for HS but unfortunately i am still looking but still hopeful that i will find something. Go to your Dr and ask to be refered to a dermatologist just talking bout it to your GP will hopefully make you feel a bit better and hopefuly the dermatologist will be able to do something that suits you and makes you happy. X

Im 23, have never smoked am a healthy weight but have still had hs since being around 9 years old ao how can it be a cleanliness,weight or smoking issue? Antibiotics have never worked on me and it simply flares up again a week later an my gp iant interested. More needs to be done as I for one find it extremely painful and embarrassing!





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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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