Sometimes, moles are more than just moles

Hidradentitis Suppurativa: What You Need To Know

In certain areas of the body, your skin is particularly sensitive to disease, infection and irritation. The armpits, the groin and the buttocks are all particularly sensitive, and some people suffer with serious and often unpleasant conditions in these places. Hidradentitis suppurativa is a painful condition that can affect people of all ages. Find out what causes this condition, and learn more about the treatment options available to sufferers.

Prevalence and risk factors

Hidradentitis suppurativa (also called acne inversa) affects around 1 in 100 people, with symptoms that range from mild to very severe. The condition often starts at the age of puberty and may continue into adulthood. Some patients suffer symptoms in one part of the body, while others experience multiple outbreaks.

Doctors don't yet understand what causes the condition, but studies show that women are generally twice more likely to suffer from this problem than men. African-Americans are also more likely to experience the condition, as well as people who have a history of acne.


Hidradentitis suppurativa occurs in parts of the body where there are hair follicles and an abundance of oil and sweat glands. The condition most commonly occurs in the armpits, but symptoms can also appear in other places where your skin rubs together. For example, some women see symptoms under their breasts, and both men and women can get problems between their buttocks.

People with the condition experience several symptoms including:

  • Pitted areas of skin peppered with blackheads
  • Red bumps or lesions that often break open and ooze pus
  • Hard, painful, pea-sized lumps under the skin
  • Large open wounds that can lead to heavy scars and tunnels under the skin

The symptoms of hidradentitis suppurativa often become worse during normal daily activities. For example, you can quickly aggravate the symptoms if you are walking or running, particularly if you wear tighter clothes. Excessive sweating can also exacerbate the issue, and oozing wounds will often emit a foul odor.


In mild cases, you may not need to see a doctor. A single bump may go away without treatment after a few weeks, even if you experience some pain or discomfort. Nonetheless, you should always talk to your doctor if the symptoms persist, recur or worsen. To diagnose the problem, your doctor will normally send a small sample of the affected skin to a laboratory for testing.

Unfortunately, a doctor cannot cure the condition. However, early diagnosis and treatment can ease the symptoms and may stop new sores developing.

Your doctor will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics. To keep your symptoms under control, you may need to take these drugs on an ongoing basis, but your doctor may recommend other short-term drugs to deal with serious symptoms. Corticosteroids (injected or taken orally) can often quickly ease severe bumps and lesions, after which antibiotics can more effectively control the condition.

Some doctors now recommend drugs called tumor necrosis factor blockers. Doctors normally prescribe these drugs to suppress the immune system in people who have conditions like ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that these medications can also treat problems like hidradentitis suppurativa, although there are some potential side effects. A doctor or dermatologist can help you decide if these drugs are right for you.

Some patients need to have surgical treatment. Surgical drainage is often an effective way to treat small areas of infection. Another process (called de-roofing) can cut away the skin over wound tunnels, promoting healing and cutting the risk of infection. Full surgical removal can get rid of problem areas, but the condition can still recur.

Easing symptoms

As well as treatment from your doctor, you can take various steps to ease some of the painful symptoms of this condition.

  • A warm compress can help reduce any swelling
  • Washing with a gentle, anti-bacterial soap and warm water can cut the risk of infection
  • Weight loss can stop the skin rubbing in certain parts of your body

Some people also benefit from zinc. A 2007 study found that people experienced complete remission during a trial involving zinc supplements.

Hidradentitis suppurativa is an unpleasant condition that can seriously impact on your quality of life. If you or a loved one suffers from this condition, see a doctor or talk to a general dermatology specialist for more advice. 

About Me

Sometimes, moles are more than just moles

Do you have a lot of moles on your body that you don't like the appearance of? Are some of your moles changing colors? Sometimes, moles are more than just moles. Do you know how to tell the difference? Do you know if the moles that bother you can be removed? I had three moles on my face that began to get larger as I got older. Around my 35th birthday, I went to see a dermatologist for help. There, I learned that moles can actually be signs of something more seriously wrong and how to identify moles that are more than just moles. Visit my website to find out what I learned.


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