Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic skin condition that affects gland and can create boils and abscesses.
If not treated properly, it can rapidly advance causing keloids, contractures, and in severe cases, the inability to move.
Luckily however, there are many possible treatments to heal or slow the development of the disorder quickly and effectively. Surgery can always be an option, however, at any stage of the illness.
What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
So, what actually is Hidradenitis Suppurativa? It’s a chronic skin condition, yes, but there is more to it than that.
The skin condition affects areas of the skin that contain something called apocrine sweat glands.
This means that most commonly the condition affects the groin or armpit areas.
The boils and abscesses can also burst or heal incorrectly meaning that wounds can occur around the affected tissue. These wounds will be amongst the affected tissue causing an inability to effectively heal, which will also cause scarring in that area.
The cause of the disorder is not fully known. It is generally agreed, however, that it is caused by the blockage of hair follicles on the skin.
This means that sweating will be an improper process. Instead of sweat cooling you down, it will get trapped. As it is trapped and not effectively cooling down, the glands will continue to create sweat. Not only does this mean that the glands are overactive, it also means that a large amount of sweat will be trapped.
The sweat is then forced back into the tissues, taking with it germs and causing irritation which will create boils.
Because of this, there are some immediate and practical ways to stop it before it can manifest, if you know you have overactive sweat glands.
If you are overweight, try to lose weight, or if you smoke, try to quit.
Antibiotics or Other Options
Before you go for surgery, there are other options to try and solve the disorder.
Topical antibiotics in the form of a lotion can be used to help the skin breathe and disinfect it.
Short courses of antibiotics can also assist in healing.
Prolonged antibiotics can also help, if short courses haven’t helped.
If it is practical for your lifestyle you can attempt a trial of the Combined Oral Contraceptive.
Retinoids or Steroids could also be used.
In severe cases, treatments that affect the immune system can also be tried. These would only be prescribed by a specialist, however.
Surgery can be an effective and efficient option, however. If it is practical for you and you want the issue solved faster, surgery can be a viable option.
There are four main types of surgery: incision and drainage, wide-scale removal, deroofing and tissue saving, carbon dioxide laser treatment.
Incision and drainage: This is where a hard abscess is pierced and allowed to drain. This is most appropriate for lower level Hidradenitis Suppurativa. As a course of antibiotics will usually be prescribed afterwards, this will usually help cure grade one Hidradenitis Suppurativa, but is not recommended for single abscesses as they may return.
Wide-scale removal: This is for more developed Hidradenitis Suppurativa and is fairly self-explanatory. This will mean that larger areas off affected tissue will need to be removed, and often skin grafts will be needed in order to heal fully.
Deroofing: This is a less extensive version of wide-scale removing, where a lot of tissue will be removed, but less than would be if the infection had developed further.
Laser surgery: This can be another option, depending on where you are based. This means that it won’t necessarily be offered to you. How this surgery works is the affected tissue is “vaporised”. After this an open wound will be what remains of the affected skin, which can then just heal.
So, at any stage of the illness, surgery is certainly a viable option. If you just want a faster, more effective way of healing the illness.
There are other options as well, though, so surgery is not the be all and end all of being cured. It is possible to try a course of antibiotics first.
If you’re worried or unsure about anything, your doctor will always be happy to help you out!
Written by Therese Wilson – nutritionist, health consultant, and author of Fast Hidradenitis Suppurativa Cure.