Hidradenitis Suppurativa Symptoms and When to See a Doctor


Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic skin condition affecting 1-4% of the population. It causes painful lumps, boils, abscesses, and lesions of the skin and can occur almost anywhere on the body. It affects the armpits, thighs, buttocks, genitals and groin most commonly. Along with medications and surgery, people with HS also try to manage the symptoms and flare-ups with lifestyle adjustments like eating a Hidradenitis suppurativa diet.

Typical HS symptoms

Typical symptoms are;

Lumps – These lumps start pea-sized but they are painful. Often it starts with just one under the skin but treating it as acne or a boil is not successful and it remains for many weeks. Then more bumps can form. These bumps appear where the skin rubs together so inner thighs, skin folds and places where it gets sweaty and/or oily like the anal area, under breasts, the armpits.

Lesions – The lumps can break open and drain pus. Once that has healed, another lump can form there, or in other areas.

Blackheads – Another common symptom is the appearance of more blackheads, commonly two at once in areas of skin that are pitted.

Tunnels under the skin – These tunnels or tracts can join together they fill with pus, have a bad smell, leak, and take a long time to heal.

Scarring – After wounds heal the best they can there is often scarring and/or pitting left behind.

What affects these symptoms?

Just as with other chronic skin conditions, HS can be worse in some people and milder in others and remain that way. It also has periods where symptoms flare, and then periods where those symptoms are less of a problem. Symptoms are affected by some lifestyle choices, like a Hidradenitis Suppurativa diet, stress, weight, hormones and it seems to be worse in people with HS who live in humid conditions. In women after the menopause, the symptoms can lessen for some. The periods in between flares can vary by just a few months or many years.

When to See a Doctor?

In case you suspect you have HS, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

If you are in pain, have lumps in more than one location, that does not get better in a few weeks or comes back quickly after treatment you should see your doctor. Early diagnosis is the best thing. You can start sooner on changes in your lifestyle including a Hidradenitis suppurativa diet and find ways to better manage the condition.

If you are have any concerns about your skin, your health or hidradenitis suppurativa, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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