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The small but extremely painful lumps under your skin are not always ingrown hair. Look into them well and you may find a serious autoimmune disease called Hidradenitis suppurativa.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is an autoimmune skin condition. It is characterized by small painful lumps under the skin, most often in areas where the skin overlaps and rubs. The prevalence of this disease in Pakistan is yet to be determined as most cases are classified as mere ingrown hair issues and thus dismissed.
This condition characterized by extremely painful lumps under the skin. If not treated it can lead to disability. The small prevalence and lack of research on the very disease make it stand amongst the least known and researched about medical conditions. The disease often sets after puberty and persists lifelong. The disease may worsen over time or stay the same.
Stages of Hidradinitis Suppurutiva
HS can be divided into different stages depending upon the severity and areas affected. In the later and more serious stages, tunneling under the skin may happen. These stages are called the hurley stages of HS.
Marked by a single or a few bumps with no sinus tracks and tunneling.
It is marked by the presence of a few bumps with little tunneling.
This stage has multiple bumps with deep sinus tracts and tunneling. This usually covers a whole region of the body.
Symptoms Of Hidradenitis Suppurutiva
The symptoms of HS vary from person to person and are usually vague. You can get the bumps in a particular region or in several areas at once.
It is important to look for the warning signs. The first warning sign might be a painful bump under your skin. If the bump stays, it is likely not an ingrown hair and might hint at something more serious. This bump can last for days to months.
Recurrent cyst and bump formation at the same site can also hint at HS. The initial bump can be itchy and extremely painful. This can turn into a pus pocket, later. If diagnosed at this stage, medications can be used to control its spread.
Unfortunately for some people even the first flareup is quite painful and comes with sinus tracts and tunneling.
Causes And Risk Factors
Although the exact cause of HS is unknown the etiology says that it develops when a hair follicle is blocked. It may be related to hormones, genetics, and immune system complications.
Much like the cause the risk factors are not very known and vary from person to person. The commonly know factors are obesity, smoking, age, family history, and sex (more prevalent in women).
HS is a long-term and serious condition with further complications tagging along.
- The wounded sites are susceptible to infection.
- Long-term cysts and drainage at one site can lead to skin deformity and open scarring altering the natural look of one’s skin.
- The bumps and tunneling is often extremely painful and can lead to complete immobility.
- The obstructive lymph drainage in the later stages of HS can hinder the normal functioning of an individual. With continuously draining pus and blood the patients tend to stay in hideouts.
Treatment Of Hidradenitis Suppurutiva
The treatment of HS depends upon the site and severity of the disease. Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for HS. There are some medications and lifestyle changes that might help you in lessening the severity of this disease.
- Losing weight: It is one factor that might help you a bundle. Losing weight does not affect HS directly but it will help in avoiding the excessive rubbing and sweating of skin. Less rubbing means less pain.
- Quit smoking: As HS is an autoinflammatory disease quitting smoking can help a lot. Smoking cause inflammation which results in severe flareups.
- Wear loose fits: Half of the pain that comes with HS is due to rubbing, either with your own skin or your clothes. wearing loose-fit clothes and letting your sores breathe will help.
- Use hot compresses: Hot compresses can help in lowering the pain. These alos help in pooping the pus pocket earlier.
There are various other lifestyle tips that help many patients. But to each its own. There is no proven scientific way to combat this condition.
Medications And Ointments:
Your doctor may prescribe you various medications from pain relievers to antibiotics and biologics. The doctors usually prescribe medicine after testing your pus. They recommend the antibiotic, to which the bacteria is not resistant.
Certain creams that help in popping the bumps and relieve the pain are also prescribed.
If your condition gets worst and severe tunneling happens your doctor might recommend you a surgical procedure. Hidradenitis Suppurativa demands different procedures for different people. For some a mere laser hair removal works and some need to go for gland removal.
The surgical procedures usually involve skin grafting, sweat gland removal, hair follicle removal, and deroofing. In some cases, the cysts and bumps reappear even after the surgery.
The Next Step To Take
If you fear that the bumps in your underarms or pubes are not just ingrown hair, it’s time to consult a dermatologist. The dermatologist if diagnose you with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, the first course of action has to be suitable antibiotics and pain relief medicines. Anti-inflammatory creams are a useful option for a lot. For long-term treatment and prevention doctors usually recommend dietary changes, immunity-boosting supplements, laser hair removal, skin grafting, gland removal, and Humira.
Keep in mind that not every bump means you have HS. There are a number of other skin conditions, you can read about them here. It is best to consult a dermatologist because self-diagnosis and self-medication can do more harm than good.
Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with the top dermatologists in Pakistan through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
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