Have you found a lump that’s sore and comes back again and again? I imagine you feel scared and embarrassed to tell anyone, right? Certainly Googling it didn’t help either I bet. In short, you may have Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).
Being a teenager is hard enough, and your body is already changing without this too. At HidraWear, we get it, because we have been there. And when you’re a teenager, hidradenitis suppurativa can start to develop. So in this post, we are going to talk about what HS is and where to start getting help for it.

What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Firstly, HS is an inflammatory skin disease of hair follicles, sometimes called Acne Inversa. But it’s not like ordinary acne. HS causes skin lesions like boils, abscesses and sinus tracts. It affects different parts of the body like underarms, groin, breasts and buttocks. However this is not a complete list.
HS has three stages called the Hurley Stages, 1, 2 and 3. Most importantly, doctors believe it is progressive, which means the longer you have it, the worse it becomes. So each stage represents the progression of the disease. However not everyone’s condition gets worse, which is why early diagnosis is key. If you are a teenager, hidradenitis suppurativa may be forming, therefore it’s important to catch it early.

Increases in sex hormones during puberty change the hair follicles, which can for instance trigger HS. This might explain the symptoms you may be experiencing during puberty. Nobody knows why and unfortunately, there’s no cure.

However, There is good news!

But the good news is there are ways of managing your current wounds and preventing some of the future ones. Some people for example, find certain foods, stress or hormonal changes contribute to HS. So learning how your condition and body works are essential.
People with HS certainly have lots of names for their symptoms. For example,  flare-ups, flares, lesions, or inflammations. Some people describe them by specific kinds of wound for instance,  abscess or boil. I use the terms flare-up and lesions because they are general yet descriptive. But you can call yours whatever you like.

Telling someone you trust


I’m afraid keeping your condition a secret is not in your best interests. Not only can hiding make you anxious and fearful, but your lesions can also get infected, so you need to look after them. Your first step is to confide in an adult. A parent or guardian would be ideal, but any adult you trust will do.
It is so important to talk about it and process what you are going through. It doesn’t matter how mild your condition might be, it is still a tough thing to deal with. It may challenge your ideas of beauty or health. Being able to talk and adjust your views will help your mental health both in the short and long term.

Getting Medical Advice

The only way to certainly know if you have HS is to see a doctor. Finding information is a great start, but you can’t diagnose yourself from the internet. Furthermore if you do have HS, your doctor will be able to tell you how to look after yourself. In addition they can refer you to a specialist if you need it. On the other hand ,there is a lot of false information out there. So your doctor can help you sort fact from fiction.
Most importantly, finding out now is the best-case scenario. Because if you know early, you can take measures to prevent infections and reduce scarring. It is great that you are reading this and preparing to take control of your health.
If you are unsure of how to talk to your doctor, I wrote a post recently. You can check it out here.

Staying Positive

Right now, you are forming your ideas about beauty and what a body should look like. Wound and scars can certainly make you feel insecure. But there is nothing wrong with how HS makes you look. This is a new piece of information for you add to your idea of beauty not take away from it. Because HS  does not define you in any way.
HS is a skin disease and so you have not caused it. Therefore nothing you ate, did or felt caused it. Nobody knows what causes HS but what we do know is that it affects lots of different kinds of people. There are things you can do to manage the condition, but you could not have prevented it. You also don’t need to feel embarrassed about it.

It will be okay.

I know it is easier said than done. Remember, this is not life-threatening, it is manageable, and you can do this. It’s scary right now because you don’t know what’s going on, but soon you will know all about your condition. You will learn ways and strategies to cope, and you will figure out what your body needs.
I am very fortunate to be able to write this because not that long ago, I was in a similar situation. That’s how I know everything in this post is true. Right now, it’s scary, and it seems like everything is out of control. I promise you it isn’t, it is waiting for you to take charge. Enjoy being a teenager, hidradenitis suppurativa doesn’t have to take over.
I wish you the very best of luck in taking the next steps. Remember, you will be okay!

 

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About the Author

Shannon hidradenitis suppurativa patient

Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and therefore has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.