Hidradenitis Suppurativa has been referred to as “the hidden plague” and with good reason. It’s one of those chronic conditions that people tend not to discuss if they have it. So many people are quiet about it that it’s been estimated that as many as 50% of people with this condition have no idea what it is or that they have it.
So what is it? Hidradenitis is a chronic skin condition that causes rashes, acne, and cysts in certain areas of the body. They tend to happen in areas where the body folds or rubs and in areas where there is an abundance of sweat glands. These cysts can be exceedingly uncomfortable and heal poorly, often leaving a dark spot or a dimple behind. The cysts related to hidradenitis may remain fully internal and just look like red swollen spots, or they may look like blackheads or whiteheads. In some cases they may leak blood or pus or even fully rupture. In both men and women, the cysts commonly show up in the armpit, groin and buttocks, and anywhere that there is skin overhang or a natural fold or crease in the body. In women they also show up under the breast. Some people break out in the same spots repeatedly and can mistake hidradenitis as an allergy to a commonly used product like anti-perspirant.
While no one is one hundred percent what causes hidradenitis, there are a few things we do know about the condition:
- People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from it
- Smokers are more likely to suffer from it
- Women are about three times as likely to develop hidradenitis than men are
- Hidradenitis typically makes its appearance around puberty
- Hidradenitis is not contagious and is not related to poor hygiene
- Many people with hidradenitis have a blood relative who also has it, that number grows significantly if you factor in relatives who suffered from boils or cystic acne but did not have a diagnosis of hidradenitis.
- Some women find their hidradenitis flares up and dies back in correlation to their menstrual cycles.
- Some women find that monthly hormonal birth control pills minimize their flare ups.
- Women with hormonal disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) find that getting their hormonal disorder under control helps minimize flare ups.
- Some medicines that control blood sugar can be effective treatments for hidradenitis
Based on these facts, most doctors and scientists theorize that hidradenitis is possibly the bodys reaction or over reaction to hormones. There is no FDA approved treatment for hidradenitis, but that doesn’t mean there are no ways to treat, manage and minimize your hidradenitis.
There has been success in treatment with diet changes, hormonal medicines, steroid-based medications, laser therapy, topical medications and more! Extreme cases have required surgical intervention like deroofing, excision, skin grafts etc. Hidradenitis can be painful and embarrassing – especially if your case is more severe or if your break outs happen in private regions. Don’t wait. The longer you go untreated, the more severe your case can become.
The doctors at Associates MD have treated hundreds of patients in Davie, Plantation, Weston and the surrounding cities. You are not alone.