Imagine going through life with painful, sometimes smelly, golf ball-sized boils in your armpits or groin. For people with Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), that’s a reality, says Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D., an American Academy of Dermatology fellow and a senior staff physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The disease isn’t super-rare either: HS affects between one and four people out of 100, says Hamzavi. Think you might have it? Here’s what you need to know about HS and managing the condition.
What Exactly Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
In short, HS is a common but rarely diagnosed chronic (and relapsing) disease of the hair follicle, says Hamzavi. It’s not contagious and is characterized by swollen, painful bumps that typically drain pus, says Andrew Alexis, M.D., chairman of dermatology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West in New York City. HS is also more common in women than men. The boils associated with the disease usually pop up in the same places: your armpits, groin, buttocks, around your breasts, or your inner thighs, says Alexis.
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