Hidradenitis suppurativa is a rare but potentially debilitating skin condition that can leave patients disabled or with permanent scarring.
A skin condition that affects the armpits, genitals, and breasts can have devastating impacts on patients — yet it’s commonly misdiagnosed.
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) affects only 1-4% of the population, according to Cleveland Clinic, yet the condition can have an “extreme impact on life.” The disease can cause painful, itchy, and pus-filled bumps to form under the skin, and the size and pain of HS legions can create issues with mobility and flexibility. Patients with extensive legions can qualify for federal disability benefits.
Patients with HS are also more likely to have
and anxiety, according to a 2020 meta analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. A 2018 paper in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found HS patients have a significantly higher risk for suicide, which authors deemed a “very clear indicator of how profoundly HS can affect patients’ lives.”
The condition is commonly misdiagnosed due to patient embarrassment around seeing a doctor, a physician being unfamiliar with signs of HS, and misinformation about treatments, Men’s Health reported.
HS starts during puberty and is more common among Black people, smokers, people who are overweight, and women. If caught early, doctors can manage the condition with
, prescription ointments, hormone pills, and steroid injections, according to Kaiser Permanente.
Physical signs of the rare, but debilitating condition include itchy lumps that merge together overtime and cysts that form on the groin, armpits, or buttocks.