Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), also known as Acne Inversa is a common skin-related disorder characterised by painful lumps in regions where the skin folds and rubs against dermal tissues in the vicinity, such as the armpits, breasts, groin and buttocks. While the exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa has not yet been uncovered, the chronic skin ailment primarily arises owing to inflammation and infection of the sweat glands in sites near hair follicles. Although people of all age groups can acquire HS, it mostly occurs in young adults in their 20s and 30s, with more women than men developing rampant inflammation in the skin. Furthermore, the small to medium masses on the skin tend to become sore, ooze out pus and even form deep scars, tunnels and thus require appropriate medical care to resolve the discomforting signs.
Causes Of Hidradenitis Suppurativa:
The underlying reason for hidradenitis suppurativa is the obstruction of hair follicles in compressed areas of the skin, but the precise cause is not yet known. Doctors and medical researchers attribute the occurrence of HS chiefly to genetic aberrations, hormonal imbalance and lifestyle factors including being overweight, suffering from obesity and cigarette smoking. However, hidradenitis is not contagious and so does not spread from an afflicted person to a healthy individual by direct contact.
Various aspects make a person prone to acquiring HS, such as:
- Young age, with a considerable portion of people with acne inversa being in their 20s and 30s
- Women face a higher risk of HS than men
- Inherited genetic features or defects passed on among close family members
- Smoking tobacco raises the probability of contracting HS
- Higher than average body weight and obesity increases the risk of HS
- Individuals already suffering from severe acne
- Pre-existing chronic health anomalies like arthritis, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease
The lumps on the skin that are the distinguishing feature of hidradenitis suppurativa develop most often in the armpits, breasts, groin and buttocks, where skin tissues come in close contact and brush against nearby tissues. The defining signs of HS comprise:
- Swollen, red bumps in folds of skin
- Pus-filled sores which are very painful to touch
- Deep dark red, brown or blackened scars
- Tunnels sprout underneath the skin connecting the distended masses and which tend to bleed and discharge pus
Hidradenitis suppurativa can result in swollen areas in the arms, legs, genitals, trigger skin infections and even give rise to skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, as symptoms worsen. It is hence advised to report any unusual lumps forming in the skin promptly to the doctor so as to provide the requisite medical treatment for HS and alleviate the painful signs.
There is no particular diagnostic assay to detect hidradenitis suppurativa conclusively. The dermatologist examines the affected areas of the skin of the patient thoroughly to look for signs of abnormal masses, pus, bleeding, discolouration and deep scars/tunnels.
Additionally, the healthcare professional collects a sample of skin tissue from the site of bleeding or pus discharge to investigate the causes in a laboratory. In minor cases, hidradenitis suppurativa is difficult to ascertain since the symptoms resemble a skin infection or ingrown hair.
Treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa involves either prescription medications, surgery or a combination of both, to subside the swelling in the skin and avert any grave health consequences such as cancer.
Medical experts prescribe topical antibiotics in the form of a liquid, cream or gel, to be applied on the affected regions of the skin. Moreover, steroid injections are given to suppress the inflammation in the skin, along with pain-relieving medications to dispel tenderness and discomfort in the swollen areas.
For deep pits, dents, scars and tunnels, doctors recommend surgery. These surgical procedures entail methods such as unroofing, punch debridement, laser therapy and surgical removal, to eliminate swollen bumps, large lumps and tunnels in the skin. Hidradenitis suppurativa does not have any cure, but seeking proper medical care and treatment after noticing lumps on the skin helps to manage the symptoms effectively, pacify inflammation in the skin and prevent any serious complications in the patient.