What is hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)?

Hidradenitis Suppurativa, or HS for short is also known as Acne Inversa. It is a chronic skin disease that causes painful nodules, ‘boil-like’ lumps or abscesses, also known as lesions. These often affect the armpits, groin, perianal area, buttocks or under the breasts. However HS can affect other areas of the body. The cysts or abscesses are not only painful but also burst, leaking pus with an unpleasant smell. If you have experienced symptoms described above more than twice in a six-month period, it might be HS.  A doctor can examine and diagnose you. HS is usually graded on a scale called the Hurley Staging System. There are 3 stages of HS in the staging system. There are also new ways of grading HS severity being developed by doctors and researchers. Stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa is the mildest form of this condition.

Stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa

HS can begin in childhood, teenage years, or most commonly in the early 20s. Both men and women are affected, but for some reason, it seems to affect women more often.

The first signs of stage 1 HS is usually a single, or multiple lesions (boil like lesions or abscesses). These are typically  located in an area like the armpit, groin, thighs, buttocks, under the breasts. They can occur in more intimate areas like the genitals or around the anus. However, HS can occur almost anywhere on the body.

HS hurley stage 1 usually causes small, firm lumps of bumps in the skin, which can become swollen and sore. Often stage one HS lesions will burst open, and drain pus. Sometimes they will resolve but recur in the same location. This is a tell-tale sign.

hidradenitis suppurativa picture groin

Misdiagnosis

Stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa is often misdiagnosed as a regular boil or a localised skin infection. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as an ingrown hair or a regular skin abscess. And so, it can be treated in the wrong way. It is really important to tell your doctor if you experience boil like lesions in any of the areas mentioned above. If the lesions occur regularly, it could be stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa. An early diagnosis could prevent the condition progressing further, with effective treatment.

Although stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa is the mildest form of the disease, it can be very painful. The draining lesions can be problematic also. So, if you suspect you might have stage 1 HS, please see your doctor.

hidradenitis suppurativa picture armpit stage 1

Treatment for stage 1 hidradenitis suppurativa

Early diagnosis is essential. If you suspect you have stage 1 HS, please don’t put off seeking medical help. Treatment will vary depending on how severe it is. You might experience some a pain, so the doctor may prescribe you some medicine to help with that. Or you may need some antibiotics. Wound dressings and proper wound care should be used to prevent leakage.

There are a lot of home treatments you can try for stage 1 HS. Bathing in warm water, with added salt, epsom salt or essential oils can help. Some people use warm compresses on their HS to help them drain and ease discomfort. Some people prefer to use ice packs, to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Your doctor will recommend treatments, like topical creams or gels. Sometimes a steroid injection into the lesion will help with the swelling. In some cases a small surgical procedure known as Incision and Drainage might be helpful. There are lots of different treatment options for stage 1 hidradenitits suppurativa. The best thing you can do is to see a doctor who specialises in HS.

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