Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) can be a painful and sometimes embarrassing skin condition. It is best managed under the care of a physician. We’ve asked Dr. Mark Jackson, an esteemed dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology to provide expert answers to hidradenitis FAQs, including what you can do to alleviate symptoms.
QUESTION: What is hidradenitis?
Hidradenitis Suppurativa, or HS, is a chronic inflammatory process that occurs in areas of the body that contain apocrine glands, such as creases and folds. This glandular inflammation results in deep cysts which can rupture and drain, potentially leading to scarring and the development of sinus tracts under the skin. These become a source of more drainage, infection and chronic inflammation. The main symptom is pain, and the end stages of the disease can result in destructive scarring.
QUESTION: What causes hidradenitis?
The cause is unknown, but HS is seen more commonly in women and in smokers. It usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.
QUESTION: How does it impact a sufferer?
Pain, chronic drainage and scarring are the main problems.
QUESTION: How do you treat hidradenitis?
The best treatment for early stages is good cleansing to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and plugging of the follicles that can create inflammation in the cysts and sinus tracts. Cleansing can be accomplished with CLn BodyWash or any other topical antiseptic cleanser. Benzoyl peroxide washes and chlorhexidine can be drying, making CLn an ideal option. Also, HS patients are more prone to folliculitis. Therefore, the CLn Shampoo may be a good choice, serving both as a shampoo and body wash. CLn Shampoo is formulated with salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite and has gentle, exfoliating properties. The next step in treatment is topical and oral antibiotics and the TNF alpha inhibitor, Humira, or oral steroids which work to decrease inflammation and bacterial colonization. End stages of the disease can result in scarring and chronic inflammation in severe cases, which can be treated with surgical removal or debridement of the entire involved area.
QUESTION: What role does cleansing play in managing the condition?
Bacterial species overgrow in inflamed skin and create further inflammation. Keeping the bacterial colonization down is a crucial component in preventing worsening of the disease and is a vital first step. This cleansing also plays an adjunctive role in mid and late stages of the disease and can also be important pre-and post-surgery in the latest stages.
We hope you’ve found this FAQ on hidradenitis helpful. You can find more information and support at http://www.hs-foundation.org.
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