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Video

Dr Christian:
We’ve had a lot of comments to the site about a condition called hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s a bit of a mouthful, so I’m going to call it HS from now on. But you seem to be worrying about it, and you want to know what it is, and how do you know if you’ve got it. Well, it is a really nasty condition, usually caused by some sort of infection in a particular type of sweat glands, and it gives you nasty, suppurating, pussy sores and boils under your armpits, in women it can occur under the breasts, and in both sexes around the groin and around your bottom.

A lot of you want to know how you tell the difference between HS and acne. Acne causes little blackheads and whiteheads, pussy white spots, usually on the forehead and face, on the chest and on the back. HS causes a lot worse lesions, it causes hard red nodules and suppurating pussy lesions that can burst and leak. It causes the skin to be red and sore.

We’ve had a lot of questions on preventative measures—if you have it, what can you do to try and help it a little bit? Well, best things are to avoid tight clothing and to avoid synthetic fabrics, because anything that makes you sweat and that rubs and irritates the skin will make HS worse. If you’ve got it and the lesions are red and pussy, then warm baths, often with a little bit of anti-bacterial detergent in, or actually salt water, can be very effective in helping the pain and helping bring the pus out.

A lot of people have left comments on the site asking what the most effective treatments are. Well, if you are diagnosed with HS, the first thing we usually try is an antibiotic, because very often it’s caused by a bacterial infection. Now, be warned, you may need to take the antibiotics for a long time, a period of six months or more, before you notice any difference. Anti-inflammatory drugs work well to reduce the redness and the swelling, and steroids also, over a short period of time, can dampen down the infection and the severity of the problem. There’s a drug called roaccutane, which is used for severe acne, that can also be very effective for HS, and as a final resort, surgery to remove the infected skin can work as a permanent solution.

A lot of comments have been left about the scarring that HS causes and what can be done about it. Well, the truth is, the best way to avoid the scarring is to diagnose the condition early and get it treated early. That way, the scars shouldn’t set in, and the best way to do that is, if you’re worrying about any sort of lesions on your body, under your armpits or groin, is to go and see your GP.

Read the video transcript

Doctor Responses: Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about Hidradenitis Suppurativa such as: What causes it? What are the treatments for it? What’s the difference between HS and acne?

With thanks to the Baker Street Medical Centre

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Hi I am 31 year old woman and have suffered for the last ten years. I have had around 10 operations but the only time I never really suffered was when I was pregnant. Does diet really help and non smoking? Any ideas if a hysterectomy could cure the situation. Just feel so low that I have to suffer with this no one seems to understand





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Hi, my name is stacie im 21 and was diagnosed with HS in 2010. I have had 12 minor surgeries in the past year and I know your pain! I'm stage 2 of the hurley stage system. I feel your pain... There is a group on Facebook called hidradenitis suppurativa support group. Please join if you haven't already as every member is either a sufferer or supporting a suffer and I find it very helpful. Thanks x

Hi my name is Tiffany. I'm 26 and was diagnosed 6 years ago after giving birth to my first child. I am now pregnant with my second so antibiotics, steroids and surgery are out of the question. I am from Ontario, Canada and wanted to know if anyone has a recommendation for a specialist in the area. As well, at this present time I'm suffering from a massive boil about the size of an apple on my bottom right at the tailbone into the lower area. I've had it for almost a week, it hasn't burst or drained and I've tried everything from pokeing it, to warm and cold compresses, and apple cider vinegar compress nothing is working I'm to the point now its so big and inflamed i cant walk, sit or sleep and being 6 months pregnant doesn't help any suggestions? Thanks again





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I had this for 8 1/2 years my Doctor Who only give me antibiotics that never work is now get me down me and my wife never go out any more coz the constant smell and it seeps all the time. We have been married nearly 2 years and we never had a honeymoon because I'm too embarrassed to go out anywhere I don't even like going to work just in case other people can smell it. Please can you help I don't know what to do next Close are always in pain and struggle to sleep





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hi I have been dealing with disease for many years but didn't find out what it was until about six years ago it's costing me relationship with my partner because I so ashamed of my body.it's under my armpit both of my breasts and in my groin area and on my butt. I had surgery in my left groin area in 2013 and I didn't do good with that it feels like sharp needles are sticking me in that area pain in unbearable. I am having drainage comming from the other area's that I am using gauze dressing to catch the pus that's leaking out.I get so depressed at timeout wishing I can be normal and have a normal life. cause these bills are so painful all the time 24/7 .I needs help to get this under control your's truly misshootie.





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I have suffered with this condition for 33 yrs and it also runs in my family. I have had multi operations minor to more complex to remove drain and to remove the skin from the area and graph armpits head area groin and stomach. This never worked only the condition is life long and as you know very painful to cope withth. I been on long term medication and for several years been on Tetralysal anti biotic this did keep my condition under control for a while but still have flare ups, however not as severe. Until yesterday my groin I'm in so much pain it has swollen red and has multi able skin cysts to many to remove I'm told by a consultant many years ago, he said the pain will kill me. Just gone on a course of co -amoxiclav to try keep at bay. I have just heard about a cream called Emuaid does anyone know if this cream will calm HS

Hi. I've had lumps under both my arms for about a year, but since xmas this has got a lot worse, I now have big lumps/boils under my arms, they are so painful, like sharp red hot stabbing pains, and I am not able to lift or move my arms, the smell is like rotting flesh, it's disgusting. I am not able to do anything with my daughter and my marriage is now non existent as I dont want my husband near me. I have been to the doc's and been given 2 lots of antibiotics, and the doc told me that there is no cause and i'm just unlucky. This is really impacting on my life, in fact I don't feel like I have a life.





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Embarrassing Bodies Channel 4 9pm Episode 4/8 Monday 26 March 2012 DVD/video required or diet info which was given to Chris from Birmingham sufferer of Hidradenitis Suppurativa to pass to young teenager who is suffering very badly from this condition and whose life has been made completely miserable by it.





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I am looking for a dermatologist that has a good knowledge of or specialises in HS. I am willing to pay to go private, but would like some recomendations. south of England prefferable. Thanks





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Hi zoe. If your looking for a good doctor u should try to get an appointment with doctor futune iwagu you can find his information on the net as he works in broomfield hospital he is a very good sergeon i have had sugery buy him for hs and he has done an excellent job.

I think I might have HS I've only noticed it the last couple of months I'm 24 Ive noticed all the symptoms but am afraid of going to the doctors or telling my partner about it it's not as bad as some off the ones I have read up about only notice a couple on my inner thigh but what can help it and should I really go and see my GP and is it something to worry about





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hi thank you for your reply to me, my name is lesley, i am 57 years old. i have suffered with hs for 20 or more years. 7 years ago i had surgery on my pubic area to remove all the lumps left by the hs. since the operation i have suffered with the most horific pain in my lower abdomen.i have been and had done everthing my gp and pain management has offered me. at present i am taking a cocktail of drugs for the pain i get, they have come to the reason for the pain i am getting is from scarring from the operation. the plastic surgeon says he dont want to operate again in case it causes more scarring. my life is none igsistance, because of the pain i am in constantly, you are my last resort,i cannot live the rest of my life constantly in pain like this,and taking the amount of drugs i take each day.please can you help me with thanks lesley

Hi if suffered for what seems to be h.s I just wanted to know is it hereditary and can it be transmitted





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Hi Jodie HS cannot be transmitted - it is just something that you have. I've had it since I was 16 but not diagnosed until I was 19. Sadly, not much is know about it so GP's rarely have much info - I was lucky that it was picked up by a locum and gave me welcomed peace so well worth asking you GP about it specifically. Many forums have said that it can be hereditary although I think that it is different for everyone. Antibiotics don't work for me but there are other preventative methods such as washing in Head and Shoulders (because of the zinc) and taking turmeric tablets seem to help me - I guess it's jut finding something that works for you. Good luck and if you think you have it I would definitely recommend joining an online support group - it helps knowing that there are others out there and getting some tried and tested methods for keeping it at bay.

Hi Jodie HS cannot be transmitted - it is just something that you have. I've had it since I was 16 but not diagnosed until I was 19. Sadly, not much is know about it so GP's rarely have much info - I was lucky that it was picked up by a locum and gave me welcomed peace so well worth asking you GP about it specifically. Many forums have said that it can be hereditary although I think that it is different for everyone. Antibiotics don't work for me but there are other preventative methods such as washing in Head and Shoulders (because of the zinc) and taking turmeric tablets seem to help me - I guess it's jut finding something that works for you. Good luck and if you think you have it I would definitely recommend joining an online support group - it helps knowing that there are others out there and getting some tried and tested methods for keeping it at bay.

I am 47 years old and have had hs since I was about 11 years old, I have had countless amounts of anti biotics, courses of roacatane, and over 30 lots of surgeries, this hideous disease is very much a part of my life and I've come to terms with that now, that doesn't mean that at times I would really rather not be here, I get so dam depressed at times, Im really lucky I have a wonderful family and understanding husband and that gets me through. I read somewhere that hs may subside once you go through change of life and that's what I hang on to





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Hi I'm 49 and have gone through the change and I'm sorry to say that I still get them. I also thought that when I went through the change they would ease off but sorry to say it hasn't worked for me.


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