What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa and how can it be controlled?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is an inflammatory skin disease of multifactorial origin. In her there is an occlusion of the apocrine glands of the hair follicle, which results in the appearance of deep and painful abscesses. According to clinical studies, its general prevalence is 1 patient for every 300-600 people.

It often appears after puberty, can persist for many years, and worsens over time. How to recognize its symptoms? What treatments are available? This time we will tell you the most relevant aspects about this disease.

What are the symptoms?

As indicated by the Mayo Clinic, Hidradenitis suppurativa can cause damage to one or many parts of the body. Some of the most common symptoms of this condition are the following:

  • Comedones: They are small, pitted areas of skin that contain blackheads.
  • Painful lumps: These enlarge over time and open. This causes abscesses, which drain fluid of a purulent nature. When these lumps appear and break, the patient suffers pain, itching and is able to perceive a very unpleasant odor.
  • Tunnels: Over time, tracts can form that connect the various abscesses. These types of injuries heal slowly and can lead to lifelong scars.

Hidradenitis suppurativa causes comedones on the skin. These, in turn, tend to leave scars.

Intensity of the condition

The United States National Library of Medicine indicates that not all cases are so severe. This condition can range from mild to severe. and, depending on the characteristics of the person and the progress of the disease, the symptoms will be different in each case.

In mild cases, a lump or a few are usually present in one area of ​​the skin. The moderate variant includes enlarged bumps that are broken and that appear recurrently in more than one area of ​​the body. Finally, in severe cases, the bumps are generalized, painful, and can make movement difficult.

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Possible causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa

The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unknown, but it is known to result from an obstruction of the hair follicles in the skin. In any case, specialists link this syndrome to certain parameters. For example, 30 to 40% of patients have a hereditary family history.

It has also been linked to the following:

  • Hormonal (due to the fact that there is a higher prevalence in women in premenstrual outbreaks).
  • Obesity and overweight.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Immune problems.
  • Smoking

When to consult a dermatologist?

Data disclosed in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, state that the moderate and severe varieties significantly affect the quality of life of the patient.

On the dermatology quality of life index (DLQI), from 0-30, it has a value of 10, a figure that indicates serious discomfort. Therefore, at the slightest sign of illness, it is necessary to see a doctor.

This pathology can seriously affect the life of the patient and their personal confidence. When the lumps – especially under the armpits – are painful, do not improve in a few days or appear in several places simultaneously, it is essential to visit a dermatologist.

Risk factor's

  1. Age and gender: it is most common in women between the ages of 18 and 29. The earlier the pathology appears, the more likely it is to get worse over time.
  2. Family background: it is related to an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern and to genes present on chromosome 1p211.1-1q25.3.
  3. Obesity: there is a relationship between obesity and hidradenitis suppurativa.
  4. Smoking: it has also been associated with the disease.

Treatments for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

The MSD manual shows the different possible approaches, based on the severity of the disease. Next, we detail its main characteristics.

Mild cases

It is based on the injection of corticosteroids in the affected area and the prescription of oral antibiotics for approximately 7 or 10 days. Soothing creams are also applied and deep cleansing is performed during the worst moments of the clinical picture.

Moderate cases

In these cases, the same antibiotics are prescribed as in mild cases, but for periods of 2 to 3 months. In women, drugs that block the effects of certain hormones can be used in order to improve symptoms.

Serious cases

Here infliximab injections are used, a medication used to treat various autoimmune diseases. In addition, long-term anti-inflammatories are prescribed to reduce pain, such as isotretinoin or acitretin.

Lastly, surgery may be necessary. In it, the professional cuts and removes the affected area and then reconstructs the skin or performs a skin autograft. Pus drains and laser therapies can also be done, but this does not prevent the lumps from reappearing in the future.

The doctor may suggest antibiotic treatment in mild and moderate cases of hidradenitis suppurativa.

Tips for Coping with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

The Web National Health Service (NHS) provides patients with hidradenitis suppurativa with some tips to improve their lifestyle despite the condition. The most important are summarized in the following list:

  • Losing weight if you are obese: Obesity has not only been linked to hidradenitis suppurativa, but it also causes cardiovascular problems, greater probabilities of presenting certain types of cancer, diabetes, among other conditions.
  • Give up smoking: again, this goes far beyond illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 50% of smokers die due to their addiction.
  • Use antiseptic personal hygiene material.
  • Place warm compresses on the lumps regularly: This can help the drainage of pus so that it does not accumulate in the lesions and make the clinical picture worse.
  • Avoid at all costs shaving the affected areas or applying perfumes and deodorants, as they are quite sensitive.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.

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Facts about Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is considered an underdiagnosed disease and very little known in today's society. According to the Hidrosadetinitis Association, up to 1% of the population suffers from it in some areas, but 85% of people don't know what it is.

It is a practically lifelong condition that, out of shame and stigma, many people do not dare to share. If you have any of the symptoms described, go to the dermatologist without hesitation. Although it cannot be cured completely, the condition will improve a lot with the indicated treatment.