Hidradenitis suppurativa is a condition that, once developed, is likely to be present for the rest of the patient’s life. It is a painful condition that may appear at any time from puberty onwards. However, it is not known why some people suffer from this disorder while others do not. Hidradenitis causes seem to be a mix of factors which may differ from patient to patient.
Approximately one percent of the adult population has been diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa, but the actual figure for those affected is thought to be higher than this. Due to the embarrassing nature of the hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms, many people may be reluctant to visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis and to seek treatment.
The condition usually develops around puberty, but it can also appear at any time after this. It is not known why it develops, but it sometimes seems to run in families. Women are approximately three times more likely to be affected than men (or women are more likely to seek treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa, which can have the effect of skewing the statistics).
It usually begins with the appearance of a small lump under the skin. The lumps are a result of the hair follicles and apocrine sweat glands becoming blocked. Due to this blockage, sweat builds up in the glands and the tubes that lead to the skin. Over time, these swell due to the increased pressure. This pressure is what causes the pain that is associated with hidradenitis suppurativa. The inflamed tubes may then burst, or continue to swell under the skin.
It is often thought that the symptoms oand hidradenitis causes are linked to poor hygiene, due to the foul smell that is produced as the skin’s natural bacteria break down the pus that is released. However, the smell is nothing to do with being unhygienic, and will be produced even if the hidradenitis patient washes thoroughly every day. The condition is not associated in any way with cleanliness.
Hidradenitis suppurativa may also be referred to as acne inversa or apocrine cysts. Acne inversa refers to the fact that the spots develop underneath the skin rather than on the surface. The cysts and abscesses affect the apocrine sweat glands, which is where the name apocrine cysts originates. It is thought to be autoimmune in origin, although this has not yet been confirmed. An autoimmune disorder is one in which the white blood cells of the body’s own immune system attacks other regions of the body. Patients who have been diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa will often have an underlying autoimmune condition – this condition is often linked with Crohn’s disease, which affects the digestive tract.
Although there is no known cure for hidradenitis suppurativa, there are several different forms of treatment available. The nature of this condition means that the management of symptoms must be considered on a long term basis. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections, but it is possible that the bacteria on the body will become resistant if these are used too often, or for long periods of time. For this reason, many patients with hidradenitis suppurativa will choose to manage their symptoms using a combination of natural therapies and changes to the diet. Both of these can have a dramatic impact on the severity of the abscesses, reducing them in both size and the extent across the body.
There are numerous different natural substances that can be applied directly to the abscesses as topical treatments, and these have the effect of reducing the inflammation in the sweat glands and tubes, minimising the pain that is felt. They can also act as antiseptics, ensuring that the number of bacteria acting on the pus to produce the smell is also reduced. Read more…