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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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I've had HS for a few years now & I find that the only things that help, even for a little while are to cover the lumps with 'Antiseptic Savlon Plasters'! These help because it draws the pus out on its own (meaning that less scars will appear after they have gone down) although this may not work for everyone, it definitely helps me. I also feel less pain when I'm walking around when they are covered. Another thing that helps me is 'Savlon Wash' (it looks a bit like a bottle of mouthwash) and all you do is pour a few capfuls in a nice warm bath. It cleans the area and has helped to reduce mine. I know first hand how awful the boils can be but whatever you do, do not squeeze them! Hope that's helpful to anyone!!





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hi could you recommend a hospital/clininc on nhs that will remove sweat glands surgically from the groin





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I believe i have this condition too, i have suffered for just under 8 years mostly under arm and under breast. Ive tried to home treat with hot baths everyday, anti bacterial soaps, creams and dressings when the puss seeps out.. Ive even given up smoking & lost weight but to no avail. Just recently i have had a severe flare up in my groin area which has become unbearable. I know i need to get a diagnosis but I'm so terrified of Doctors (silly i know) but the thought of undressing terrifies me. Ive been single now for 12 years now & I'm so lonely.. It seems that after researching and reading comments, treatments that loneliness is something i will have to live with from now on. Lets hope & prey for a miracle cure !!





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my brother has suffered for over twenty years now, abscesses at bottom of spine. He has spent a year in hospital spread out over last 2 years. 3 month stays. He has now got a colostomy bag fitted and is suffering infections in his pelvis and stomach. The drs say it is the worst case they have come across. His moral is at an all time low. They are giving him 4 antibiotics at a time, varying them every so often. He has lost 5 stone and they are trying to build him up to use infliximab ( think that's the spelling). If there is anyone out there that can help us, please do. we are at the end of the road.





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I've been having this hs problem for almost 2 years now. I never knew what this was until now.I get them underarm. It is very embarrassing. I see the surgeon tomorrow. Hopefully this gets better. I wish all of u the best of luck with your hs.





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I've had HS since middle school so about 5 years but just got a name for it a few days ago and i get it in my inner thighs and underarms it flares up a few times a month and when it does it extremly painful i can hardly put my arm down the lumps get so big and painful they drain and bleed and often when my underarms drain it smells bad its extremely embarrassing my underarms and thighs are scarred and i am unable to shave.Does anyone know how to help the pain?





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Go to GP. You probably need a course of antibiotics firs. Ask for prescription for Fucidin and Dermoll as well to maintain it later on.

to be honest, antibiotics will not help for the pain. if you have a flare up then you should try Epsom salts in a warm bath. im a third generation hs case and this is what my grandma, mom and i use

a hot bath helps a little and it also helps the hs to burst which gives you releif from the pain. good luck i have lived with hs since 1985.

I've went through this same issue under my armpits as well as my groin & inner thighs...i recently had surgery on my left arm back in oct. 13, it was extremely great i also had the same surgery on my right arm almost 4yrs ago & haven't had any difficulties since...consider surgery I've done it, it leaves scars but that's better than clusters of lumps. I go early feb. to c if somethin can b done about my groin wish me luck as well as u...

Im going through the same thing at the moment under my armpits but am seeing a dermatologist which the doctors referred me to, they have tried all different medication and nothing as worked so I've got another appointment in a few days and am gonna request that I av the surgery because can't see what else could work, I've suffered with this for nearly 3yrs now and its embarrassing for me x

After having painful lumps for 25 years finally I've learned how to manage it and I've been all right for about 2 years now. 1. Use Dermol cream as a soap substitute twice a day. 2. Use wet wipes in hot days. 3. Shave. 4. Squeeze out all whiteheads at least weekly. 5. Use Fucidin cream 3 times a day as soon as you see any lump starting growing. 6. Don't wear jeans! I used to have lumps larger than a plum and couldn't walk. It's over now however I have scars everywhere.





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HI ive had this problem since i was in middle school im a sr in high school now and i have them on my underarms and my inner thighs they are so painful! Where do you find the fucidin cream?

u get the cream only from your doctor

I have HS and im constantly in pain i had to give up i have had it since i was 16 and im now 25 it took them 10 years to figure out what was wrong with me and now i spend my time in and out out of hospital :(





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Hidradenitis is an auto immune disease. Ever since I can remember I suffered with this skin disease for 10+years. Researching I came across this amazingly lady that explains the reasons these flare ups happen. Its free information and has been such a blessing to me from changing only my diet and the foods that are the culprit for this unruly disease such as wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, and night shades. Check out http://robbwolf.com/2012/04/09/putting-hidradenitis-suppurativa-remission-paleo/ so far mine has been in remission. Praying this will help another person that is desperately needing another option.

I've lived with HD ever since I can remember the pain has now dulled down as I get it so often I didn't rarely feel the pain but they're only in the groin and I only every have max 3 at anytime. I haven't told my doctor just because I've read all the comments and I see that there is no real point unless I want to have surgery and I don't want surgery.





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My daughter has HS and is in tears most of the time. The pain along with the extensive drainage has gotten worse. Physician has put her on acutane with the hope of drying up the drainage prior to going in for surgery.. They have her taking bleach baths to help with drying up the areas. Surgery is our next option. What can we expect for the length of recovery? Her groin and armpits are the areas of concern. We are also looking for support groups.





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i have had both my armpits removed by a plastic surgeon. had them skin graphed i have had no more bother with them. i also have had several ops on my groin but im still getting loads of trouble in both groin areas. im just waiting to go into hospital and have more surgery on my groin area. hot baths several times a day helps a little with the pain. hope your daughter gets some some pain free days. the lengh of recovery is different for every operation. sometimes they leave the wound open and clean it every day that takes a couple of months to heal but it is the best way to do it. if they stitch it up 9 times out of 10 the infection is still there so the surgery was a waste of time so better leaving it open to heal from the inside. hope this post helps you understand a little more

Healing depends on the person ,the docs give u 8 wks it could heal faster...my body took well to the surgery but it was a great choice for me, your daughter will have much joy...good luck





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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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