Hidradenitis Suppurativa (or HS) is a chronic skin disorder that usually affects the sebaceous and sweat glands in various areas of the body like the groin, inner thighs, underarms, and breasts. The non-communicable disease, also occasionally called Acne Inversa, typically manifests as clusters of long-term, painful, pus-filled cysts of varying types.
Symptoms of the disease can include blackheads; red abscesses that can grow, leak and break open; inflammation; lesions; scarring; and infections that can form in subcutaneous tracts. Abscesses associated with HS can inflame to the size of golf balls or sometimes baseballs. Rarely, severe complications can lead to a type of cancer and, even more rarely, death.
HS is understudied and easily misdiagnosed. As such, there is a lack of consensus among experts regarding causes. It is believed to occur when apocrine glands become plugged due to excessive sweating, genetic predisposition, bacterial infection, genetic disorders in cells, or other factors. It is more common in woman and adults, and can be exacerbated by obesity, tight clothing, and very humid climates.
Treatments vary depending on severity. They can include alterations in lifestyle like avoiding inflammatory foods, losing weight, using warm compresses, icing inflamed areas, and hydrotherapy. Medical treatments include antibiotics and a wide variety of drugs, therapies, and electron beam radiotherapy. More severe HS can be treated via surgeries in which the affected area is removed and skin grafts are applied.
There is much to be understood about hidradenitis suppurativa. But given advancements in medicine and continued study of the rare skin disease, HS treatments will become more effective and severe cases, even more rare.