Hidradenitis suppurativa is a recurring skin infection and irritation which is heralded by the appearance of not only blackheads but also sensitive, red lesions or bumps. These bumps resemble boils in that they swell up, rupture and then drain pus, often for days. Because this is a chronic condition, scarring will likely results after just a few occurrences at the infected site.
Unfortunately, there is no known cause of hidradenitis suppurativa but some doctors believe it is as an extreme form of cystic acne. This is because it occurs deep into the skin, near the hair follicles and oil glands. This condition mainly affects the area around the major sweat glands which are in the armpit and groin areas.
For those who are unlucky enough to develop it, hidradenitis suppurativa usually starts after puberty and can recur for years, often getting worse as time passes. No definitive cure is available for this skin infection but if caught early enough, there is hope at controlling the symptoms and prevent new bumps and lesions from forming.
Symptoms and Other Signs
Where the sweat and oil glands are found in prominent areas is where you are likely to find an outbreak of hidradenitis suppurativa. The main areas are the groin, armpit and even anal area, three places where people sweat the most. In addition, areas of the body that tends to rub together like the buttocks, breasts or inner thighs may also have an outbreak. People can have this skin infection in more than one part of their body unfortunately.
Typical signs of hidradenitis suppurativa include the development of red, painful bumps which fill with pus and then break open to drain. Excessive sweating, itching and foul odor may accompany this discharge. Some of these painful bumps may just leak pus continually and take a long time to heal. Sometimes they never fully heal and instead scar up.
Sometimes, the affected area looks pitted and contains blackheads which is trapped sebum from the oil glands that are exposed to the surface. Small painful bumps may swell under the skin and form hard cyst-like nodules which can become irritated or inflamed periodically.
Some people with hidradenitis suppurativa may only experience mild symptoms while others get worse and develop multiple areas of this skin infection. Weight gain, excessive sweating, extreme heat and fluctuating hormones all play a role in this unpleasant condition.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctors will likely order blood tests to determine infection and may even take a sample of the drainage if it is present. These tests will rule out other conditions such as a carbuncle, pilonidal cyst or even tuberculosis. As far as treatment is concerned, if the case is mild, antibiotic soaps and topical antibiotic ointments may be used to keep the condition from getting worse.
Oral antibiotics may be necessary as well as retinoids to help slow or stop the production of the oil glands. Hidradenitis suppurativa may also require anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling. For more serious cases, incising the bumps and draining them may provide temporary relief but doesnt guarantee that they wont return.
Drastic measures occur when the skin and affected tissue are completely removed and then skin grafts used to repair the site. While this extreme measure will effectively Ã¢â‚¬Å“cureÃ¢â‚¬Â that particular site, it does not guarantee that the hidradenitis suppurativa wont recur in another area.