Hidradenitis suppurativa is rare skin condition in which small, painful lumps develop under the skin, usually in areas where the skin rubs together (armpits, groin, between the buttocks, under the breasts, etc.) or in areas near hair follicles where many oil and sweat glands are present. Sometimes, the lumps may break open and smell, or they may create tunnels under the skin.
It can continue for many years, may worsen over time and can have serious effects on your daily life and emotional well-being, particularly during outbreaks.
People who have reached puberty through the age of 40 are most likely to get hidradenitis suppurativa. It can be affected by weight, stress, hormonal changes, heat or humidity. It is more common in women, and the severity of the disease usually lessens after menopause.
The symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa include blackheads that often appear in pairs; red, tender bumps that may break open; itching and burning sensations around the bumps; and hard, painful, pea-sized lumps under the skin. Over time, tunnels that connect the lumps may form under the skin. They can leak pus and are very slow to heal.
While there is no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa, early and long-term treatment may help control pain and promote wound healing. There are different types of medication, including oral and topical drugs, steroid medications, hormone therapy, pain medication and drugs that suppress the immune system that can help ease symptoms.
In more advanced cases, you may choose surgical options, which will depend upon the location and severity of the wounds. This can include surgical removal of the skin involved, incision and drainage or electrosurgery. Electrosurgery allows the removal of the diseased tissue while at the same time preserving healthy tissue and requires general anesthesia during the procedure.
Since this condition is 10 times more likely to occur in overweight individuals, experts recommend that weight loss could be the most effective means of prevention. Additionally, making healthy food choices and avoiding foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats and dairy can help improve your skin condition.
If you have hidradenitis suppurativa, avoiding friction from tight clothing, avoiding prolonged exposure to hot, humid climates and keeping your skin temperature cool can help minimize flare-ups. The doctors at U.S. Dermatology Partners can help you learn more about this condition and how to ease its symptoms.
*Results may vary by individual