Those who are suffering from skin problems suffer a lot in their personal as well as professional life. Most of the skin diseases are contagious i.e. they spread from one person to other. Inflammation and itching sensation are also common in most of the skin diseases and they are hard to cure also. Reoccurrence rate is very high in case of skin diseases when compared to other diseases. Some skin diseases leaves permanent marks on skin where as some diseases won’t leave any marks on skin. Though people are suffering from several skin diseases, Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is increasing rapidly in most of the places in the world. Let’s have a look at this disease.
It is popularly known as “acne inversa” all over the world. This skin disease is more common in the body parts where sweating is high or the two body parts rub together. It is commonly seen in underarms, anal area, below the breasts etc. Researchers are not concentrating on this disease very much and that’s the reason why apart from CO2 laser surgery no other effective treatments are there for this disease. Hence it is also called as orphan disease. Even senior and experienced dermatologists face difficulties in diagnosing this condition and this disease is frequently mis-diagnosed by many. Itching is common and leads to inflammation and the condition can become scary with time.
In most of the cases, lumps or lesions were developed and the patients feel lot of pain. The pus generated from the lumps have bad odor and user may experience lot of pain while they broke open. In some cases, the lumps are connected under the skin. Similar to many other diseases, early diagnosis and treatment can help in curing the disease quickly or else the treatment may go on for years.
In most of the cases, HS infection is found in the areas where hair follicles are present. Groin, anal area and the body parts like armpits frequently suffer from this infection. Body parts where skin frequently rubs like inner thighs and under breast region are more prone to this infection when compared to other parts. In some cases, this skin infection is confined to one of the above mentioned parts where as in some cases more than one area is infected with this disease. This is how the disease grows
- First, double barreled small size lumps are developed. Usually these lumps are seen in pairs and are popular as black heads.
- As the situation becomes worse, they get converted into red color. Itching sensation will be there and if proper treatment is not given, they may leak pus generating bad odor. Excessive sweating is also observed in some cases.
- In some cases, size of these lumps gets increased to pea nut size. This condition is commonly observed if the infection is neglected for more than six months.
- These lumps will take time to completely heal and if tunnels are developed, it may take years to completely cure this disease.
Excessive Sweating, weight gain, changes in the menstrual cycle (in case of women) are also observed in some cases.
It is better to consult the doctor immediately if:
- Lumps are appeared in one or more regions.
- Itching or inflammation is present.
- Bad odor is coming from the infected region.
- You are suffering from this infection frequently.
- Same symptoms appeared within weeks after discontinuing the treatment.
Even medical experts failed to get unanimous conclusion on the causes of this disease and medical experts opinioned different causes for this disease. Some argued in the favor in the blockage of hair follicles where as some opinioned genetic or heredity reasons. Some researchers found that smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and excess weight as the reasons for this disease. However, till now no medical researcher came up with correct explanation and to be frank, no one knows the exact causes of this disease till now.
HS – Risks involved:
As the spreading of HS increased a lot these days, people are constantly worrying about the complications of this disease. According to some researchers, more than 1% of population is suffering from this disease all over the world. If you are suffering from this disease your life style changes a lot and you are more prone of bacterial and virus infections.
- This infection is more common in people who are in their twenties and in thirties. Kids, teenagers and elder people are less prone to this infection.
- In most of the cases, patients suffering from this disease are women. Some researchers even concluded that women are more prone to this infection compared to men.
- If your mother or father had suffered from this disease, you are more prone to this infection when compared to others.
Though complications are not observed in the initial stages if you neglect the disease and proper treatment is not given, severe complication may develop. Some of the common complications observed in HS patients are:
Scars: In some cases, scars are observed in HS patients that are darker than normal. It is hard to cure this disease and the rope like dark scars may present even after treatment also.
Restriction in movement: If this infection is present in anal area, this infection may cause problems in your regular movement also can cause pain whenever you are moving.
Swelling: Lymph nodes may also get affected with this infection as it may obstruct the regular flow. This may increase the swelling and several body parts like hands, legs may appear bigger than normal.
Discomfort: As already mentioned, when the bumps broke up, bad smell is observed. This may cause inconvenience not only to you but also to others who are near to you. This may result in social isolation also. So patients may feel psychological depression apart from physical pain they are facing.
What to do while contacting doctor?
It is always better to consult the doctor immediately whenever you observe the symptoms of this disease.
You must explain the doctor each and every point you observed. Explain the doctor when you first observed infection, from how much time you are suffering from this infection etc.
If you are on other medication or you are using (vitamin, herbs etc.) supplements, inform the doctor about the same. One must remember that, you need to buy the original and authenticated medicines and the exact dosage prescribed by doctor need to be taken daily.
Some of the questions doctor asks you are here:
- From when, you are suffering from this disease?
- Is this the first time you observed these symptoms or not?
- You started observing these symptoms at what time?
- Are you suffering from pain or not?
Tests and Diagnosis:
Diagnosis of this skin infection is difficult when compared to other infections and doctors usually face confusion while diagnosing this disease. Doctor may recommend for biopsy and blood test is also performed in some cases. If lumps broke out and pus is coming out, doctor may send the sample of pus to laboratory. Testing pus gives more authenticated results when compared to others but it is rarely recommended.
When compared to others, cost involved to treat this disease is very high. Some of the medications preferred are
- Antibiotics: Doctors prefer antibiotics and they are recommended for long term use. This may reduce the chances of reoccurrence and also help in healing the wounds faster. Antibiotics recommended by doctors vary from one other. Some may recommend mouth intake medicines and some others recommend creams.
- Corticosteroids: Some injections are given in the infected area to reduce inflammation. Some doctors recommend prednisone to reduce inflammation but usage of this medicine is for long term is not recommended. Complications like osteoporosis can occur because of this medicine.
- TNF – Alpha inhibitors: This type of medicines are not recommended for heart patients as these medications can increase heat failure rate. Infliximab and adalimumab are recommended by doctors after knowing the patient’s condition. Risks of getting cancers also increases with prolonged use of these medicines.
If the infection became complex, surgery is recommended. Some of the surgical methods preferred are listed below:
- Incision and drainage: This surgical procedure is recommended if the infected area is small. However, most of the users complain that this procedure increases the rate of reoccurrence. This is very effective in getting short term relief.
- Uncovering the tunnels: This procedure is more popular as de-roofing. In this procedure, doctors cut inter-connected tunnels after removing the infected skin. Chances of reoccurrence are more in this surgical procedure also.
- Surgical removal: This is the final procedure and is recommended by doctors in the rarest of the rare occasions. Cutting skin (skin graft) is compulsory (near to infected area) in this procedure and is recommended when the affected area is large and the infection is present in one or more areas.
One must note here that surgical procedure is not preferred in most of the cases and is recommended rarest of the rare cases.
(Informational Video on Acne Inversa)
Changes in Life style:
By following some of the methods, this infection can heal faster and these methods are simple and won’t cost you anything.
- To reduce the swelling, it is better to use warm compressors in the affected area.
- This injection can become complex if any bacteria or virus is present in the infected region. To reduce bacterial infection, clean the infected area with anti-bacterial soap. Applying anti-bacterial creams can also help in reducing the infection.
- Prefer loose clothing. Tight clothes will irritate you further and wearing tight clothes will increase the infected area further. Preferring loose underwear (in case of groin or anal area is infected) can reduce the healing time.
- If you are obese, there are more chances of skin rubbing and this increases the chances of getting Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Losing weight decreases the same and helps in quickly healing the disease.
If you want to reduce inflammation, taking zinc supplements can help. This may even help in preventing further outbreaks.
Those who are suffering from this disease not only face physical suffering but also psychological as well as mental suffering. Those who are suffering from these problems need to be self-conscious and needs constant family support. The foul smell of the pus can create problems in your professional life and sometimes, people may make funny comments on you to embarrass you. Some may need professional counseling and follow the strategies that are prescribed by doctors. Online support groups and web forums of HS patients can also help you. One must note here that the treatment of this infection is very slow and in some cases, the treatment time may period may vary from six months to one year. Ongoing treatment can also make big hole to your pocket if your insurance won’t cover this disease.