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A to Z: Hidradenitis

May also be called: Hidradenitis Suppurativa, HS, Acne Inversa, AI, Suppurative Hidradenitis, Verneuil Disease

Hidradenitis (hi-drad-uh-NYE-tis) is a chronic skin condition that can cause painful, swollen bumps to develop in areas where skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, between the buttocks, or under the breasts.

More to Know

Hidradenitis (commonly known as hidradenitis suppurativa or acne inversa) develops when hair follicles become blocked and irritated. Doctors don’t know what causes this, but factors such as smoking, being overweight, having a relative with hidradenitis, and being female can increase a person’s risk. Hidradenitis usually starts between puberty and age 40, and women are more than 3 times more likely to get it than men. Hidradenitis is rare in women who have gone through menopause or people over 55.

Early signs of hidradenitis include one or several breakouts that look like pimples or boils. As the condition progresses, painful, pea-sized lumps can form deep in the skin, and red lesions can form on the skin. These lesions can itch and burn, and they may break open and drain foul-smelling pus. Scar tissue can form and make moving the arms or walking more difficult. In some cases, tunnels connecting the lumps may form under the skin. Due to the pain, odor, discharge, and disfigurement it causes, hidradenitis can also lead to depression and other psychological issues.

Hidradenitis may appear to go away and come back, but there is no cure for the condition, and it rarely goes away on its own. Treatment usually involves medicines to help control symptoms and prevent new breakouts. Severe cases may be treated with surgery to remove the affected areas of skin, although this may not prevent the condition from coming back or occurring in other areas.

Keep in Mind

Although hidradenitis can’t be cured and may last for years, treatment can help clear or reduce breakouts, prevent new breakouts, and help prevent the formation of scar tissue or tunnels under the skin. It’s important for people with hidradenitis to seek treatment right away to help stop the condition from getting worse.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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