Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic skin condition characterized by the development of painful, inflamed bumps and nodules that typically appear in areas where the skin rubs against itself, such as the armpits, groin, and buttocks.
The exact cause of HS is not known, but it is thought to be related to clogged hair follicles and sweat glands, which can lead to the formation of abscesses, cysts, and tunnels beneath the skin.
Treatment for HS typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and/or surgery, depending on the severity and extent of the condition. Treatment options may include:
- Antibiotics: Prescription-strength antibiotics may be prescribed to help control bacterial infections that can develop in areas affected by HS.
- Anti-androgen medications: Prescription anti-androgen medications, such as spironolactone, may be a useful treatment option for reducing inflammatory lesions and pain for female patients with HS
- Corticosteroids: Topical or injectable corticosteroids may be used to help reduce inflammation and swelling associated with HS.
- Biologic medications: Certain medications that target specific components of the immune system, such as TNF-alpha inhibitors, may be used to help reduce inflammation and pain associated with HS.
- Surgery: In more severe cases of HS, surgery may be necessary to remove affected tissue, drain abscesses, or create drainage pathways to prevent recurrent infections.
- Pain relief: Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can assist to lessen the pain and discomfort brought on by HS flares. Severe cases may benefit from prescription pain relief medications.
In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes such as maintaining good hygiene, losing weight if overweight, and avoiding tight clothing or other sources of friction or irritation may be recommended to help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications associated with HS.
The long-term effects of HS can include chronic pain, reduced mobility, decreased quality of life, and psychological distress. The scarring and disfigurement that can occur with HS can also lead to self-consciousness, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, individuals with HS are at an increased risk of developing other conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
It's important to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment for your individual needs, and to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of any medication or surgical procedure before undergoing treatment. In addition, it's important to practice good self-care and to avoid smoking and other habits that may exacerbate HS symptoms.