How do I know if I Have Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

While hidradenitis suppurativa is an exact condition, it may be a bit difficult to identify since it shares symptoms with several other conditions. For this reason, it is important to look at it carefully after reading this page to ensure you’ve spotted it correctly.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic condition affecting the sweat glands and manifesting itself as a skin condition. The sweat glands become clogged due to a number of reasons, causing the ducts behind them to become enlarged, predisposing them the inflammation and infection by bacteria.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is typically characterized by large, red bumps in areas of the body where both sweat glands and friction are present. This includes the buttocks, under the breasts, the groin and the armpits, but it may affect other areas such as the neck and abdomen. These bumps gradually get larger and eventually drain pus. After hidradenitis has affected one area multiple times, that area is susceptible to scarring.

There is unfortunately not a cure for hidradenitis suppurativa since the exact cause of sweat gland blockage is unknown. However, you can work with your doctor to manage existing lesions and take preventative measures for new ones.

Who’s at risk for hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is most common in women and African Americans. It can be worsened by any sort of skin irritation, such as shaving, deodorant and anything else that rubs against the skin. The condition is often associated with smoking, obesity, and an increase in hormones. It may also be genetic. It generally begins soon after puberty and continues into adult life.

What are the signs and symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa?

The primary hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms are firm, sensitive red bumps with extensive scars and tracking under the surface of the skin. There will frequently be a pair of blackheads on a single lesion, and the lesions are likely to drain pus once they reach a certain size. Hidradenitis suppurativa lesions are rarely seen on the torso, scalp or legs.

Hidradenitis lesions are most commonly seen in the groin and armpits. This is because these areas have high concentrations of sweat glands. Lesions may also occur between the buttocks or under the breasts due to the friction of skin rubbing together. Because of this, people who are obese are more prone to the condition.

Hidradenitis suppurativa comes in many degrees of severity. In some, there may only be a few lesions while others may experience a full outbreak affecting many areas. In this case, hidradenitis suppurativa can be extremely uncomfortable. Increasing hormones and excessive sweating can cause an increase in severity.

How can I care for hidradenitis suppurativa?

In many cases, hidradenitis suppurativa is mild enough that self-care is an option. If this is the case, you should firstly wash any red or draining areas with antibacterial soap, then apply antibiotic cream and clean bandages. If the drainage is excessive, make sure you change the gauze pads frequently. If necessary, warm compresses and ibuprofen can help lessen the swelling. Additionally, you should avoid tight clothes to prevent further friction on the skin.

When should I seek medical care?

With milder hidradenitis suppurativa and good self-care, the lesions typically heal in 1-2 weeks and the pain is managed with ibuprofen and hot compresses.

However, there may be more severe symptoms, requiring the help of a medical doctor. These include:

  • Unable to control the pain with ibuprofen and warm compresses
  • Condition appearing in multiple areas
  • Recurring instances of the condition
  • Excessive pain or excessive drainage
  • Red streaking
  • Fever
  • Other factors that indicate there is an infection
  • Does not improve in a few days with antibiotics

What are my hidradenitis suppurativa treatment options?

In mild cases of hidradenitis, your doctor may prescript a topical antibiotic cream. For more severe areas, you may be given a course of oral antibiotics. Steroid injections are an option for deep, painful lesions. If the hidradenitis is being caused by excessive hormones in a woman, hormone therapy may be prescribed. Beyond these, there are several other ways to manage milder cases of hidradenitis suppurativa.

In severe, recurring hidradenitis suppurativa, the best option is surgical removal. This procedure completely removes the infected area, including the tunnels that have burrowed their way underneath the skin. Complete surgical removal is the specialty at the Hidradenitis Center Los Angeles. Our top hidradenitis suppurativa specialists will work with you to give relief from a condition that is embarrassing, uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating. Give us a call today and find out more how we can give you the best hidradenitis suppurativa treatment Los Angeles has to offer.