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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hidradenitis Suppurativa - A Hidden Illness

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a skin condition, also commonly known as "Acne Inversa." The glands in the inverted areas of skin (armpits, groin, behind the knee and under the breast), the perineum, the neck, behind the ears and various other locations are affected by painful, recurring lesions that begin as "pimples," but eventually drain puss and progress to tunneling under the skin. There are three stages of HS.
Stage I consists of a history of acne and sometimes boils and cysts during the teen years. Some do not get into Stage I until 20 years of age. I got my first boil at 9 years of age. During stage I these lesions are diagnosed as "pimples." Doctors see pimples and prescribe benzoil peroxide, in one of its many over the counter forms.
Stage II presents with multiple "cysts," which may or may not drain pus
Doctors told me to use warm compresses (also known as balneotherapy), and assured me they would go away. They did not go away. I had to have both my armpits drained at various times in my early twenties. In my late twenties, lesions began to present themselves in my groin and inner thigh. They seem to begin as pimples, but never go away. The lesions progress to dark purple coloration and scarring begins to take place.
Stage III shows signs of tunneling under the skin. A network of subcutaneous puss tunnels ails the victim. In this stage, lancing or draining is no longer an option. Large areas of skin will be removed from the affected areas, called skin grafting. Hospitalization for the procedure is definite.
HS is a "hidden" illness because it occurs in the most private areas of the body. Our private areas are usually covered, therefore, no one sees our disease. Because our private areas are affected, we have less of a desire to share this condition with anyone, even our own doctor. This inhibition cannot keep us hurting, silent or control our health if we don't allow it. There is no shame in coping with a disease you obtained through no fault of your own!

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