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Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Chronic Skin Inflammation

By Debra Myers     Jun 27, 2007 in Health
Hidradenitis suppurativa. Almost sounds like something from outer space, doesn't it? It is a chronic skin inflammation that is considered a severe form of acne, which occurs deep in the skin where apocrine sweat glands are found.
Hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS, begins when there are signs of black heads, usually two that are side by side. Along with the black heads there might also be one or more tender red bumps. They grow, break open, drain pus, and after several occurrences may leave severe scarring.
HS outbreaks are commonly found in the arm pits, groin or anal areas. This is because of the many hair follicles that are next to oil and sweat glands. Other areas that can also be effected are any place where skin rubs together, like the inner thighs, under the breasts or between the buttocks. There can be one outbreak at a time or many.
The signs:
> small pitted areas of the skin that have black heads in a stacked pair;
> bumps that fill with pus, which can have an unpleasant odor once these
lesions break open. As well, itching, sweating or burning can accompany
these bumps;
> pea-sized lumps under the skin that do nothing for years, then all of a
sudden they become inflamed;
> bumps that are painful and continually leak fluid, and which take a long
time to heal, and which can also leave heavy scarring.
For each person, the symptoms differ. Other factors that contribute to HS are: excess weight, smoking, hormonal changes, genetics, and heat or excessive perspiration.
The causes:
When oil glands and hair follicle openings get blocked, it pushes this stuff into the surrounding tissue. Bacteria adds its touch which then starts the inflammation and infection. Sometimes, it comes with other diseases like Crohn's disease, herpes simplex or Grave's disease.
Other complications:
"> Sinus tracts or tunnels that connect and form a network under the skin.
The tracts prevent the sores from healing and cause more sores to
> Scars and skin changes. Severe hidradenitis suppurativa may leave thick,
raised scars, pitted skin or patches of skin that are darker than normal
> Restricted movement. The disease may cause limited or painful
movement, especially when it affects the armpits or thighs.
> Cellulitis. This potentially serious bacterial infection appears as an area of
swollen, red skin that feels hot and tender and that may spread rapidly.
Although the initial infection may be superficial, it eventually can affect the
tissues underlying your skin or spread to your lymph nodes and
There is no cure for HS. Some self-treatment options are: keeping the area cleaned with antibacterial soap, using a warm compresses to reduce swelling, applying an OTC antibiotic cream...just do not shave the area!
Early treatment can lessen the damage. Your doctor could prescribe antibiotics, oral retinoid medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, as well as corticosteroids/immunosuppressant drugs.
As well, it is possible that some surgery might be suggested, but the downside here is that it may take care of that particular lesion, but will not prevent others from cropping up elsewhere.
And here's the big kicker: if you smoke...Stop!!! Who would figure that smoking would play into this? I know I didn't see any correlation!
More about Hidradenitis suppurativa, Skin conditions, Chronic