How Are HS Bumps Different From Other Bumps?
We all get random body blemishes from time to time. They usually go away quickly as they came—with minimal discomfort. But if you’re prone to Hidradenitis Suppurativa or as its commonly called, HS, then you know that your body bumps are anything but run-of-the-mill. Here, we give the scoop on exactly what makes HS unlike any other skin condition. Special thanks to Chris Sayed, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for sharing his insight and expertise for this video.
HS is a chronic skin disease in which the tiny glands at the base of your hair follicles, the apocrine sweat glands, become inflamed. It affects between one to four percent of Americans. Women are more likely to develop it, and I'm not going to lie, it can be unpleasant. Luckily, there are ways to soothe and treat the condition.
First of all, HS stands for hidradenitis suppurativa. The first word translates to inflammation of a sweat gland. The second means the forming or discharge of pus, unfortunately. HS is also known as acne inversa. It's a condition that can seep deep within your skin.
There are three stages of HS. In stage one, one painful bump emerges in a friction prone area of the body, such as the underarms, groin, or under the breasts. In stage two, inflamed glands form a few red, swollen, pus-filled abscesses. They are connected to each other through skin tunnels. They burn, they sting, they feel warm to the touch and eventually they ooze, becoming a foul-smelling open wound. In the third and most severe stage, multiple bumps and tracks develop, as well as painful scarring. Not all cases of HS progress through all three stages.
While HS bumps look similar to cystic pimples, boils, or ingrown hairs, one key difference is that HS bumps usually come back and often in the same locations. Researchers haven't yet figured out why the sweat glands get inflamed, but chances are it's an immune response to bacteria that's naturally present in this area.
So how can you make HS go away? The keys are to relieve pain, get the bumps to drain and heal faster, and to prevent new flare ups or at least lengthen the time between them. Antimicrobial soaps, such as hibiclens, can reduce the number of bacteria on your skin. Topical antibiotics may help in cases of one single bump, and over-the-counter anti inflammatories can reduce soreness.
In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral medications such as antibiotics or hormone therapy, including an androgen blocker or a birth control pill. The drug metformin prescribed to reduce insulin resistance is often used to reduce HS bumps, the premise being that high insulin triggers inflammation. Injectable meds called biologics block inflammatory proteins that people with carry in excess. Quelling inflammation is key for preventing breakouts to alleviate painful HS tracts and prevent future bumps.
Your doctor may perform a surgical treatment called deroofing, a procedure that involves opening the tunnels and clearing out all the gunk inside. The visuals are kind of intense, so let's just say that deroofing allows the tunnel and bump to heal faster. Scar tissue will form in its place, but future obsesses probably will not.
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