Hidradenitis Suppurativa: the Skin Disease that is Rarely Diagnosed

There are more dermatologic diseases than any one without medical knowledge can imagine, from sores and moles, to serious skin conditions. There are also those which, while chronic, are more annoying than serious, as they are not life-threatening. One condition that is both little known and serious is hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as acne inversa.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is an inflammatory skin disease that a lot of people don’t know about, even when they actually already have it. It manifests as boils or bumps that may look like pimples but are actually subcutaneous and have no bacterial origin. They appear under the arms, breasts or in the anal and groin area. These boils can evolve into a sort of pus-like reaction and, then, open wounds which are hard to heal.

HS is chronic, and it affects women more frequently than men. It usually starts showing symptoms during puberty and then it peaks in adulthood, between 20-40 years of age, though it can last through menopause in some women.

HS got its name because it was believed to be related to sweat, given the parts of the body where it manifests more commonly.hidradenitis_suppurativa The actual cause of the condition is yet to be fully understood – explanations tend to vary among sources. It is now understood that sweat is not behind the reaction, though it might be an aggravating factor.

Acne inversa isn’t an infectious disease, and it is not life-threatening itself. However, it can worsen, become painful and even leave tracks and scars behind if not diagnosed and treated in its early stages. In some rare severe cases, patients with this condition also end up developing cancerous diseases.

No conclusive tests are available at this time, which means the diagnosis of hidradenitis suppurativa is usually made based on the symptoms and history the patient presents to the doctor.

Risk factors associated with the disease include genetics and family history, excessive weight and smoking among others. To eliminate some of these factors, patients are usually recommended to lose weight and stop smoking. Also, first aid treatment such as cleaning the boils with an antiseptic or antibacterial product is also usually suggested, along with wearing looser clothes in order to reduce the discomfort and avoid infecting the affected area.

Since the cause of the disease isn’t completely clear, several medications can be prescribed. Antibiotics are used to treat the inflammation and infection, as is anti-inflammatory medication. Hormones can also be prescribed, as hormonal imbalances are suspected to play a part in the development of the disease.

A medication called Humira that targets inflammation was approved by the FDA in 2015 for the treatment of HS. However, it is not a cure. It just helps manage the disease and is said to reduce the lesions caused by inflammation by about 50%.