WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Embarrassing Bodies, 9:00pm Thursday 31st July 2014 on Channel 4. Catch up for free on 4oD »

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 had HS for 15+ yrs, and have had numerous surgeries on my groin and underarms. I watched Embarrassing Bodies on Tuesday thinking 'at last, some recognition.' Unfortunately I couldn't have been more wrong. Despite knowing Julie's diagnosis 2 weeks in advance of the live link up, HIDRADENITIS SUPPURITIVA was not even mentioned once. She was subjected to the usual 'are you a smoker?', and 'you need long term antibiotics' rubbish. Antibiotics only work where there is secondary infection. The abscesses (NOT BOILS - which is another complaint re Angry Boils.) are usually sterile, and someone needs to tell 'Dr' Christian that antibiotics don't work on sterile abscesses. The shows brief is to be 'informative and educational'. It was neither!!! Now for ANGRY BOILS. This is the most insensitive and insulting 'game' I have ever seen, and want to make a formal complaint and request that it is withdrawn. I will NEVER watch this programme again.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Fantastic reply and already more informative than the show.

Frankly, I was appalled by the HS segment on the show. I was medically underweight when I started with HS, I have given up smoking, my blood-glucose level is normal, I've been on the long course of antibiotics, I take multivitamins (including vitamin A), I use Dermol and Duac gel daily and I've had two surgeries (so far!). Yet still, there are days when I cannot leave the house for the pain, I physically cannot walk a mile more than three times a week because the friction brings on a flare, I take antidepressants because it leaves me so miserable which has actually caused me to gain more weight (coupled with a sedentary lifestyle caused by the HS), and I've actually read the medical textbook on it. The show in no way mentioned the serious impact this can have on people's lives, or the potential other conditions which can go side-by-side with it; certain skin cancers, crohns etc. People's lives are dramatically effected by this, and a simple brush off of 'use antimicrobial wash' and 'stop smoking' aren't enough. Most of us have had doctors like those featured on the show who don't give a hoot. If nothing else, it should be noted that there ARE dermatologists out there who do listen to your concerns and will try to help. It should also be noted that this is a serious condition and should be addressed as such.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Shame on you! I need not go on as I think all my fellow sufferers have said it all and I agree with every single one! You could have made a difference! I thankfully have had an amazing surgeon who specialises in HS & have had him for 15 years. I always expected people to get the correct advice on your program but now I've seen this I couldn't believe anything! Your advice was in the dark ages and your empathy for the condition was next to nil! Thank heavens poor Julie has her fellow sufferers support group & I shall not bother watching again as god only knows how much wrong information I and many others have believed from previous episodes. Unless you have this condition or know someone with it, you can not believe what we go through. Again.......... Shame on you!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Well said love, i am in Julies fb group and we offer each other fantastic support. EB REALLY need to get the FACTS right before airing it!!!!!

Too true Sara! Xxx

What is the first thing you do when you know nothing about a subject? Research. Four to five years ago there was hardly anything on the net about HS apart from a wiki page which for us, turned out to be I valuable. The whole social problem was that sufferers could not bring themselves to tell anyone. Thats changed. Social media has done that especially the closed groups providing support and information for members. PLUS the open groups like the BAD and HS Trust and gawd knows how many other things on facebook or google for a sufferer to reach out on. There is also (not for the faint hearted) enough graphic pics for anyone to hit Google on. Thats where EB let themselves down and let down any sufferer who watched last night and doesnt know what we all know and will ask their gp for antibiotics for boils. Welcome back to the 18th century EB. Maybe even have a word with a leading derm from guys, but first and foremost, get it right before going live. HS is a terrible life long condition and your programme should be reported to some kind of ombudsman for misrepresentation, misinterpretation, misleading dialogue. I am married to a person who suffers from HS which has been extremely vicious in a very short space of time.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Dear Embarrassing Bodies. A follow up to my comment last night. My present issues. Groin areas and pilonidal at the moment. Had surgeries beneath both arms and breasts via Plastic Surgery and same in groin. But bad constant leaking abcess on pubic bone for almost 4 years. No point in antibiotics as its not infected ( though I had septaceamia in the past @pilonidal ) . These medics need to get educated regarding H.S. I stopped smoking 12 years ago . It didnt help . I have lost about 2 and a half stones in weight . Didnt help. Ive used Hibiscrub. Made me sore ! Ive been down the route of constant antibiotics . What for ? The only time they helped was when I developed sepsis some 14 years into this disease. And 20 years later I still have H.S. Yes I am overweight because mobility is uncomfortable ....but the two diseases tend to go hand in hand. I bathe frequently . I do not stink . I use a mild Carex with Manuka to bathe . I cannot use dressings because area has hairs and we are told by medics not to shave , use depilatories or wax . We are supposed to leave hairs in situ. Bit of a contradiction in terms when the removal of adhesive dressings would remove said hairs. Also 36 years ago when I was given a name for this I was told to keep the area as hair free as possible. Now we are told different . I was also told I had blocked sweat glands . Then I was told by another doctor I was an "overly sweaty person " . I actually emitted a normal amount of sweat. No more. No less. Each time this E.B. programme has featured this condition they have basically skirted around the issue. Never once have they stated the full facts. It beggars belief . Other incurable diseases get a lot of exposure on TV , media ,papers , magazines etc. This was E.Bs chance to take the reins and educate people to H.S. As usual , they failed miserably ...even eliminating the name of the disease. Do they really think they have made sufferers feel at ease about this ? There are people who would have seen Julie last night and will now be reluctant to approach a doctor about H.S. as E.Bs always manage to make it seem like a "flippant disorder " . i.e. no big deal. Maybe theyre like a lot more "OH WELL , IT'S HIDDEN UNDER CLOTHING USUALLY SO NOT OFTEN VISIBLE. SO NOT WORTH DRAWING ATTENTION TO ". Give your heads a wobble . Your patronising attitude has not endeared you to us.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

In terms of dressings, have you tried Mepilex Border Lite. Im allergic to the glue/adhesive on all other dressings apart MBL, they use a gel which adheres well but doesnt wax you when removing.

I felt like last night show was a kick in the teeth, a horrible desiease that needs to be made more aware for people that are suffering in the dark like I did for a good few years, and you have really made the 'embarrassing bodies' really embarrassing, people are now less likely too seek medical help from GPs as you have really just discarded what the actul issue is there, it was plan to see that it was HS and it was pushed away. The smoking factor always humours me too... Why can't any medical teams actully help us correctly instead of all making major mistakes ... Perfect example of that show, has left me feeling more alone and ashamed as ever, gutted.... It's a shame you won't put anyone on this show with major HS because you know it's 'incurable'





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Yet again incorrect information, wrong diagnosis and outright ignorance!!! I believed for years as I was told you have hs because your overweight and smoke!!! Another family member of mine also has hs and has never smoked in her life and is of normal weight like thousands of other hs sufferers!! Depression is also linked to hs and with all this wrong information and being told it's self inflicted is it any wonder really. As an hs suffer for 18 years which is half of my life, these idiotic professionals have let all us sufferers down again with the same excuse normally used by doctors....you eat to much, you drink to much or you smoke to much!!! Stop this ignorance and find something useful to help us instead of blaming us!!!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I have had HS for about 29 years now.I initially went through the 3 months of antibiotics protocol on at least 3 times over the years.When will doctors educate themselves on this awful condition.Antibiotics do not work unless there is an infection.Most Hs lesions/lumps when tested are sterile!.There are recent publishings in medical journals etc that are saying it is an auto immune desease.So disapointed in the programme in not raising awareness for the thousands of sufferers out there.I think there must be many more thousands out there undiagnosed due to ignorance.Antibiotics should not be overused in any circumstance.They will not work on HS sufferers in the future if they are randomly given when there is no infection.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hidradenitis Suppurativa i have had for 9 years ..just tablets and creams given ..does not to a thing ..my doctor aint got a clue ..its a shame the show didnt go more into details about this condition ,the affects of peoples state of mind,social etc lives ..it affects us every day ...im actully seeing a new doctor today ..and im hoping she can do more by booking a derm for me ......GUTTED you didnt help the caller julie more





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I completely agree with all of the above comments, your programme of last night was a show of medical discrimination - I was appalled that you did not even mention HS when Julie showed 'classic' symptoms of the disease. To further the discrimination, the next 'guest' was told she "definitely deserved" an appointment because she had given up smoking and lost weight. As most of the comments above suggest, when we first start suffering from this disease we are not overweight - perhaps that happens because we are constantly being given steroids and are unable to carry out normal daily activities because of the pain and discomfort of having abscesses. And perhaps we are smokers because we deal with daily pain, discomfort, open wounds and against a backdrop of the medical profession regularly telling us that 'there us nothing we can do' Please educate your medical presenters because last night you showed nothing but discrimination towards patients who we're asking for help. Appalled.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

spot on well said x

Well said hun xxx





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.



Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

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





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.



Please don't swear or be rude in your questions, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting questions. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here


More Information

  1. Doctor Responses: HS

    In Videos - Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about Hid…

  2. Doctor Responses: Excessive Sweating

    In Videos - Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about exc…

  3. Doctor Responses: Boils

    In Videos - Dr Pixie explains why boils form, what can be done about them and a…

  4. Quick Health Advice: Excessive Sweating

    In Videos - Dr Pixie discusses the causes of excessive sweating and the treatme…

  5. Consultation: Second Adult Circumcision

    In Videos - Dr Jessen examines a patient in need of a new circumcision

  6. James Russell

    Doctor Info - Find out more about James Russell.

  7. Dr Priya Manickavasagar

    Doctor Info - Find out more about Dr Priya.

  8. Doctor Responses: Man Boobs

    In Videos - Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about man…

  9. Consultation: Ichthyosis

    In Videos - Dr Harper treats a women for the skin condition Ichthyosis, with am…

  10. Consultation: Soreness on the Penis

    In Videos - A patient is examined for soreness around his penis

  11. Quick Health Advice: Psoriasis

    In Videos - Dr Harper explains the causes of and treatments available for psor…

  12. Body Check: Sweat

    In Videos - Dr Christian explains the importance of knowing your sweat levels a…

  13. How To Check Your Testicles

    In Videos - Dr Harper's guide to how to self-check your balls against testicula…

  14. Dr Dawn Harper

    Doctor Info - Find out more about Dr Dawn.

  15. Dr Pixie McKenna

    Doctor Info - Find out more about Dr Pixie.


Be On Embarrassing Bodies

The clinic is opening again for a new series.
Apply for Embarrassing Bodies >