Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)
is an inflammatory condition of the hair follicle. Recurrent, inflamed nodules and cysts
form in the armpits and groin. These may also be found under the breasts, and around the nipples and anus. Less commonly other areas of the body can be affected.
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The hair follicle becomes blocked causing inflammation of the sweat glands. The blockage may lead to absesses, infection, or scarring.
HS is more common in women than in men. Other factors that increase your chances of getting HS include: Family historyObesitySmokingAcne
HS may cause: Burning, itching, or painful lumps in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, around the nipples or anus, and other involved areasPus leaking from openings in the lumpsExcessive sweatingScarring
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
In most cases, the doctor will be able to make a diagnosis by looking at the nodules.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following:
You may be able to improve the condition by taking these steps: Use warm compresses to relieve discomfort and promote abscess drainage.Avoid shaving if your skin becomes irritated.Wear loose-fitting, nonsynthetic clothing.Use antibacterial soap.Try to avoid heat and humidity.
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about finding a program to help you
. It is also important to maintain a
and eat a healthful diet. If you need help losing weight, consider talking to a dietitian who can help you with meal planning.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications depending on the severity of your HS.
Your doctor may recommend oral or topical antibiotics.
Corticosteroids may help improve symptoms. These can be taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or injected into the area.
Other medications called biologics, which decrease the bodies immune response, may be used in severe cases. These medications have many risks, so your doctor will carefully weigh the risks and benefits of using these.
Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives can be used in some cases. At other times, medications called retinoids may be used.
Small lesions can be treated in the doctor's office.
The sores may be cut open and allowed to drain. If your condition is severe, then a wide area may need to be removed. In these cases, a
may be needed.
Other procedure options include: Laser surgery—uses lasers to remove
lesionsCryosurgery—uses cold to freeze lesions
There are no current guidelines to prevent HS.
Fardet L, Dupuy A, Kerob D, et al. Infliximab for severe hidradenitis suppurativa: transient clinical efficacy in seven consecutive patients.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;56:624-628.
Hidradenitis suppurativa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 16, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
National Organization of Rare Diseases website. Available at:
Updated 2012. Accessed June 3, 2015.
Lam J, Krakowski AC, Friedlander SF. Hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa): management of a recalcitrant disease.
Pediatr Dermatol. 2007;24(5):465-473.
Shah N. Hidradenitis suppurativa: a treatment challenge.
Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(8):1547-1552.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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