Is that acne under your armpits?
If you have what looks like acne (or boils) in your armpits or groin, you may actually have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a little-known disease that can cause painful acne-like bumps that go away for a while and then return.
While HS tends to develop on certain areas of the skin, it can develop in less common locations, such as near an ear or around the belly button. A few people have developed HS on their face, neck, or back; however, this is rare.
When HS develops, it tends to begin and progress as follows:
Area of skin feels uncomfortable: Before you notice a lump in your skin, you may feel some discomfort. The area where the lump will appear may swell. Some people say their skin burns, itches, or sweats excessively.
Tender, deep nodule(s) appears: The first sign of HS is often a painful spot that looks like a deep pimple, acne cyst, or boil. This spot often appears on an armpit (as shown here) or in the groin area. Some people develop a spot on the buttocks or inner thigh.
Nodules grow and start to join together: As HS progresses, you see more lumps that may look like acne or boils. These lumps can grow and join together. As the lumps grow together, they fill up with fluid and become painful. These painful lumps are called abscesses.
Large, painful abscess breaks open:
When an abscess breaks open, blood and pus spill out. This foul-smelling mixture can cause wet spots on your clothes. People who have HS often feel embarrassed by the odor.
Abscesses heal slowly (if at all) and return; scars form
The repetitive healing and reopening eventually cause tunnels to form beneath the skin and permanent scars.
Some people have HS wounds on their skin all the time. For others, such as this patient, scars may be the only sign of HS for a while.
Without treatment, HS can continue to heal and reappear. Sometimes, it worsens and cause infections and deep scarring. We are here to help. Make an appointment with one of our Board Certified Dermatologists if you suspect you may have HS.