Hidradenitis can be a painful and embarrassing condition.  Because there is a foul odor associated with the sores that characterize the disorder, individuals who suffer from it may feel hampered when it comes to social interaction.  But with early diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to bring your symptoms under control and begin living your life again.

The condition is one which occurs in areas of the body where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, thighs, groin, buttocks and under the breasts.  It manifests as a series of hard, pea to marble sized bumps under the skin.  Sometimes these bumps will become linked by tunnels that form beneath the skin.  The bumps are tender and painful and can break open, draining foul smelling pus.

What causes these awful smelling bumps?

For unknown reasons, people with hidradenitis develop plugging or clogging of their apocrine glands. This leads to bacterial infection which can produce pain and odor. The condition is made worse by being overweight, however this condition is not caused by obesity. It is more common in people who have had acne and may become worse under stress. Hidradenitis is not caused by poor hygiene.

A few other risk factors for this condition do exist.  It is most common among young adults, usually developing some time after puberty.   For some unknown reason, it is also much more common among women than men.  It can also be passed through families, from one generation to the next.

What’s the best treatment option for hidradenitis?

Topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) are the treatment of choice, but systemic (oral) antibiotics are at times necessary when the condition is flaring or when a patient has a severe case.

Some individuals have gotten relief from taking a course of oral steroids, though these medications can have serious side effects when taken for a prolonged period of time.   Injecting corticosteroid directly into the affected area can help to reduce inflammation and ease pain.

Recent studies have also indicated that taking zinc supplements may help to reduce inflammation and prevent new outbreaks.

In severe cases surgical procedures can be used to remove the bumps and tunnels but these measures are invasive and can result in permanent scarring so they should only be undertaken with caution.

Some tips for those who do have hidradenitis:

Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing. Weight loss will likely improve the condition.

Although dirt does not cause hidradenitis, the involved areas should be cleaned daily using an antibacterial soap, such as the liquid form of Lever 2000. Some patients have found that the liquid form of Lever 2000, applied to the involved areas as a lotion after bathing, can help reduce the odor associated with this condition.

Remember, there is currently no medical cure for hidradenitis. It can certainly be controlled, but not cured.