What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is an ongoing, long term inflammation of certain sweat glands of the skin typically affecting areas of the skin with excess hair growth (armpits and groins).

The condition is most common women and in those who are of white or afro-Caribbean ethnicity. Patients suffer from multiple episodes during their lifetime.

What causes hidradenitis suppurativa?

The exact cause is unknown. There is inflammation of the sweat glands of the skin which leads to pain, redness and discharge in the affected areas. Even though the groins and armpits are commonly affected the breasts, buttocks and genital region may also be affected.

The condition is seen more commonly in smokers, obese individuals, those who have diabetes and those who are on certain medications (e.g. Lithium for psychiatric disorders and types of Oral contraceptive pill).

What are the symptoms?

  • Red, itchy painful affected area
  • Nodules, fluid filled sacs (cysts), abscesses (a collection of infection and debris within the skin) and sinuses with discharge (openings in the skin that leak pus)
  • Long term scarring
  • Psychological and social problems associated with the condition (e.g. social withdrawal, depression)

How can hidradenitis suppurativa be treated?

  • Topical antiseptics
  • Oral antibiotics and retinoid (e.g. Roaccutane)
  • Surgical excision of abscesses

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