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Hidradenitis Suppurativa FAQ


What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Also known as acne inversa, hidradentis suppurative is a long-term skin disease that produces inflamed and swollen lumps. “Tunnels” connecting the lumps can also be present. It usually appears under the arms, beneath the breasts and the groin. They can be painful and break open, releasing pus.

What is it caused by?

Although the exact cause isn’t known, it can occur when hair follicles become blocked. It can also be related to hormones, genes and immune system disorders. Smoking and excess weight may also play a part. Women are more likely to develop it than men.

What are the complications of hidradenitis suppurativa?

  • Scars and skin changes. When the wounds heal, scars and pits can still remain.
  • Limited movement. Especially when the armpits or thighs are involved, both the sores and scar tissue can make moving foreshortened and/or painful.
  • Infection. These sores are open wounds and, such such, are susceptible to getting infected.
  • Obstruction of lymph nodes. Since the common areas for the disorder contain many lymph nodes, the scar tissue may block draining. This can result in swelling.
  • Social embarrassment. Depending on the locations of the sores, the drainage and odor can be embarrassing, making the sufferer reluctant to be seen in public.

When should I see a doctor?

Early detection of hidradenitis suppurativa is critical for treatment. See your doctor if:

  • You’re experiencing pain
  • It doesn’t improve after a few week
  • It returns within weeks of treatment
  • It occurs in multiple locations
  • It frequently flares up

How is it treated?

Although there is presently no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa, several treatment options are available. Your dermatologist will recommend the right one for you, depending on how severe the condition is.

  • In pill or cream form, antibiotics will help to fight infection.
  • Corticosteroids are taken in pill form. Your doctor may give you a corticosteroid injection to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Biologics are medicines that are administered as injections or infusions. Prescribed if you have multiple HS wounds or lesions.
  • Surgery. You may require surgery if lesions must be drained or removed.

Vista Dermatology’s Dr. Karla Muñoz says, “While it’s not presently curable, there are many treatments to minimize the effects and make you more comfortable.”

If you suspect you have hidradenitis suppurativa, contact us for an appointment.


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