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Hidradenitis Suppurativa Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jun 03, 2022

    Hidradenitis Suppurativa Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

    Picture this: You are just taking a shower when you started to feel bumps forming in your armpit. Not only does the formation bother you, but it also causes some painful swelling that tends to worsen over time. Is it the typical boil we all know of or is it something else? Perhaps some hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms?

    What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

    Hidradenitis suppurativa refers to a painful, chronic skin condition forming boil-like lumps under the skin. It mainly involves hair follicles and sweat glands in areas where there is skin friction, such as the following:

    It may also occur in uncommon areas like the nape of the neck, waistband, inner thighs, back area, or even the face.

    The lumps may cause pain and swelling in the infected area, which frequently ruptures. Thus, allowing the abscesses to drain the pus and fluid. After healing, it causes thick scars to form. 

    It usually appears after puberty, which can last for years and worsen over time. This then puts a strain on your everyday life and emotional well-being.

    Dermatologists diagnose it through some tell-tale hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms and background examination about the lesions.

    Some people also refer to this as acne inversa.

    What Are Hidradenitis Suppurativa Symptoms?

    Hidradenitis suppurativa usually begins with the appearance of pimple-like or boil-like breakouts on your skin. Before you even get to notice it, you may start feeling some discomfort in the particular area. These breakouts frequently clear up for a short period of time. Afterward, you may notice new breakouts in the same spot. 

    Some hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms commonly follow this progression:

    • Tender, deep nodules. The first symptom of this skin condition is frequently a painful spot that resembles a deep pimple, acne cyst, or boils. 
    • Nodules develop and begin to connect.  Over time, you may notice the formation of more lumps growing together. Lumps with fluid inside become painful as they grow together. 
    • Large, painful abscess ruptures. When an abscess ruptures, blood and pus pour out. Thus, causing a foul-smelling mix. 
    • Blackhead-like spots. Some people notice small black bumps that resemble blackheads in the advanced stages. These spots frequently appear in pairs.
    • Abscesses slowly heal but reoccur. The repeated healing and reopening eventually result in the formation of tunnels deep within the skin and permanent scars.

    People with this skin disease are inclined to depression and anxiety as a result of the disease’s difficulty.

    What Causes It?

    Skin bumps are often a result of abnormal cell overgrowth which causes the hair follicles and/or sweat glands to get clogged and inflamed. Its growth is believed to be due to hormones or nicotine. These structures rupture after becoming blocked, causing increased local inflammation and scarring.

    Hidradenitis suppurativa is not a communicable disease. Poor hygiene is also not a reason why it persists. 

    The following factors increase the likelihood of developing hidradenitis suppurativa:

    Is There a Treatment For It?

    Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for this chronic skin condition. The main concern is to lessen the hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms that persist. Treatments may vary according to the severity of the disease, but commonly include:

  • Topical medications (i.e., steroids, antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines)
  • Oral medication
  • Injectables
  • In severe cases, doctors opt for surgery to remove the lumps and scars. 

    Key Takeaways

    It may not be curable for the time being, but your dermatologist can implement a treatment plan for you. This helps keep the disease under control and relieves the symptoms like pain, flare-ups, and even wounds from scarring. 

    The treatment plan that your dermatologist will develop may include a skincare regimen, medication, wound and infection treatment, and pain relief. 

    Learn more about Other Skin Diseases here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jun 03, 2022

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