Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Help For This Difficult Condition

Do you have recurring pimple-like outbreaks that sometimes turn into painful, infected boils in your groin area or armpits? You may have an unfortunate and relatively rare condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa. While this disorder absolutely requires the regular care of a dermatologist, here are the basics of what you need to know and some suggested at-home treatments.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Small pimples form in areas where the skin in usually abutting other skin. The armpits and the groin are common areas, but under the breasts or in the case of overweight people, folds of skin can also be affected. A pimple forms, but because of an elevated level of bacteria on the skin, and impaired immune system or a combination of the two, rather than going through the normal cycle and healing completely, the pimple can become even more inflamed, growing into a huge, inflamed boil that eventually pops, oozing nasty pus and blood, potentially contaminating the skin around it. Or, rather than progressing to a boil, a painful, enlarged infection will hide deep in the skin, becoming a dormant cyst or even large blackhead. Oftentimes, sufferers develop deep tunnels, or tracts, that become pus-filled and new sores develop along. These scars can thicken in some people, making locomotion difficult.

How Do Dermatologists Treat Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Large boils and cysts may sometimes need to be surgically drained or removed. Smaller boils may be first treated with a corticosteroid injection to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation. Long-term antibiotic use is almost always a component of treatment. Antibiotics help to reduce the inflammation as well as assist in controlling new outbreaks. You may also be prescribed topical antibiotics as well. Hormone therapy is also another consideration. Your dermatologist may work in conjunction with your gynecologist to determine the appropriate method for balancing your hormones. Hidradenitis suppurativa is commonly exacerbated by a hormonal imbalance. In patients who present with comorbid diabetes and hidradenitis suppurativa, the diabetes drug, Metformin, often helps both conditions. In severe cases, Methotrexate, a drug usually reserved for treating cancer patients, may be used. Adalimumab was approved not long ago by the FDA for use in patients with moderate to severe cases, but the side effects can be troublesome.

Laser surgery is showing promise in treating this condition. It helps to clear up really deep breakouts, and as it destroys hair follicles, where bacteria is abundant and most outbreaks arise, it can prevent further issues.

What Treatments Can Be Done At Home?

Again, this condition requires medical supervision, but a bleach bath may prove useful if your doctor determines you have excess colonized bacteria on your skin. This can be safe and effective in helping to control the condition, but bleach baths won't cure it. Ask your dermatologist for instructions on how to prepare a bleach bath. You can also use traditional over-the-counter acne washes and ointments.