Hidradenitis Suppurativa
By Hanna Sutton

Everyone flinches when something goes bump in the night, but what is your initial reaction when there’s a new bump on your skin? Though bumps on the skin are most likely something as benign as acne or folliculitis, if you’ve noticed some strange bumps in areas of the skin that encounter a lot of friction such as the groin or the armpits, you may want to keep reading. Hidradenitis Suppurativa or HS is a suspected auto-immune condition that in its early phases may appear as acne-like bumps. These bumps most commonly occur in areas of great friction such as the groin, anus, upper thighs, and armpits. If left untreated, these bumps may become deeper and more painful. As these bumps deepen, they may rupture, leak foul-smelling pus, abscess, and begin creating tunnel-like tracts in the skin. If these signs and symptoms sound fitting with your persistent bumps, just know that there is hope.

Upon seeing a dermatologist, there are various treatment options for patients suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa. If a breakout of HS is severe and painful, a dermatologist may administer an injectable steroid into the affected area. This steroid injection may decrease inflammation and prevent future HS breakouts. In addition to steroid injections, oral steroid pills are also often effective in reducing inflammation, clearing breakouts, and preventing new ones. For more severe HS, a dermatologist may prescribe a biologic such as Humira, Stelara, Otezla, or Taltz. These biologics are typically injections the patient may administer themselves at home. While biologics are more effective long-term solutions to clearing hidradenitis suppurativa, these medications also come with more side effects and risks as they work to manage the patient’s immune system. Not every patient is a good candidate for biologics, so patients must consult with their doctor before considering going on biologics.

Certain lifestyles lend themselves more to contracting HS. Smoking cigarettes can both increase a patient’s chance of getting HS and increase the frequency, severity, and duration of breakouts for a patient with existing HS. Being overweight or obese may also contribute to hidradenitis suppurativa. Since this condition tends to manifest in areas with great friction, patients who experience more skin-on-skin friction — such as those who are overweight or obese — tend to be more likely candidates for HS. Quitting smoking or losing weight can decrease severity of breakouts or help clearing HS altogether.

If you have been diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa, there are a few home remedies that may improve your breakouts. Washing with an antibacterial soap daily such as Hibiclens will help keep the affected areas from getting infected. Wearing loose fitting clothing can decrease friction, thus lessening the risk of a breakout. In addition, it’s important to keep the susceptible areas cool and dry. Using an over the counter powder such as Zeasorb can help soak up excess sweat and oil in the groin or armpits.

Though new bumps on the skin may be no cause for concern, it is also smart to pay close attention to bumps in high-risk areas for HS and seek evaluation from a dermatologist if necessary. If you think these symptoms may apply to you or you want to talk about new treatments for your HS, come on in to our Arlington Heights, Barrington, Crystal Lake or Elgin locations see one of our skilled practitioners.