Diagnosis of Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Early diagnosis and treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa is important both for managing symptoms and reducing the development of new lesions. Doctors can often diagnose the condition by examining the skin for boils in locations that are characteristic for the disease. Laboratory tests of fluid from the lumps and blood tests may occasionally be performed to rule out other diagnoses.

Treatment for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa is individualized and targeted at reducing the skin lesions and preventing the progression of the disease. Options will vary depending on several factors, including the severity and extent of the lesions and possible complications.

Two medications, from a class of drugs known as “biologics,” are approved for the treatment of moderate to severe HS. Other medications used in the management of HS include antibiotics, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, retinoids, hormone therapy, and approved treatments for other medical conditions. Laser hair removal may also prove beneficial. Some patients take medications to manage pain associated with the disease. Surgical techniques can help, such as de-roofing (taking the tops off) of lesions, and wide excision of the affected area in more advanced cases.

Treatment will often begin with a primary care clinician; however, primary care clinicians often refer patients to dermatologists, particularly in cases of more severe or hard-to-treat disease.

Psychological counseling may be helpful for people dealing with the emotional effects of the disease.

Who Treats Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Health care professionals such as a family doctor, internist, or pediatrician treat hidradenitis suppurativa. Depending on your symptoms, your primary care doctor may refer you to a dermatologist, a specialist who is trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the skin.  

Living With Hidradenitis Suppurativa

In addition to treatment prescribed by a doctor, people can do several things on their own to be more comfortable and, in some cases, minimize lesions. These include:

  • Keep areas clean, using ordinary soaps and antiseptics.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Use warm compresses.
  • Ask your doctor if bleach baths are right for you.

Some people with hidradenitis suppurativa find it helpful to work with a mental health professional or participate in a patient support group. 

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