#117: Hidradenitis Suppurativa(HS): A Very Significant Skin Condition

May 22, 2024

                                                                                      Listen on..

When I first encountered Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), also known as acne inversa, I was taken aback by the severity of this chronic skin condition. HS manifests as painful lumps that often evolve into abscesses or cysts, primarily in areas where skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts. These lumps can be excruciating and severely impact a person’s quality of life, persisting for many years due to hormonal influences post-puberty.

One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of HS is the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds it. Many patients are unfairly judged as having poor hygiene when, in reality, they are battling a serious dermatologic and immunologic condition. This stigma is exacerbated by the fact that skin conditions are often dismissed as superficial and easily treatable, which is far from the case with HS.

The Origin and Misconceptions

Historically, HS was linked to aluminum in antiperspirants, believed to aggravate both the tissue and the immune system. While the exact cause of HS is still not fully understood, it is now recognized as a severe skin and immune disorder. My introduction to HS was through a 27-year-old single mother who came to me in desperate need of help. She was on disability due to the unbearable pain from large, cystic abscesses in her groin, which even narcotics couldn’t alleviate. Her condition opened my eyes to the high suicide rates among HS patients, highlighting the profound psychological impact of this disease.

Conventional Treatments: A Limited Arsenal

Conventional treatments for HS focus on symptom management. These include:

  • Topical Treatments: Soaps, antibiotics, and corticosteroids aimed at reducing inflammation and infection.
  • Oral Medications: Antibiotics to control bacterial overgrowth, synthetic vitamin A (retinoids), and hormonal treatments like birth control pills and spironolactone to regulate hormone levels.
  • Steroid Injections: Direct injections into lesions to reduce inflammation and pain, though these can have side effects like increased sugar levels and potential for worsening the condition.
  • Biologics: Monoclonal antibodies used to modulate the immune system.
  • Surgical Interventions: Removal of infected areas, abscess drainage, and use of skin flaps to cover damaged tissue.

A Holistic Approach: Nourish, Kill, Remove

In my practice, I’ve also explored holistic therapies for HS. One particularly memorable case involved a patient with severe boils and scarring from both the disease and previous surgeries. We focused on a three-pronged approach: nourish, kill, and remove.

  • Nourish: Utilizing nutraceuticals to support skin health and cellular repair, including nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and collagen-boosting ingredients.
  • Kill: Applying powerful agents like liposomal vitamin C, which penetrates the tissue and converts into hydrogen peroxide, effectively destroying bacteria.
  • Remove: Encouraging the body to eliminate toxins through improved lymphatic function and addressing lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress management.

 Quality of Life and Psychological Impact

HS significantly diminishes quality of life. The pain and visible symptoms can lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Patients often struggle to perform daily activities and maintain relationships, compounding their emotional distress. The chronic nature of HS means there’s no quick fix, and patients need continuous support to manage their condition.

Addressing HS effectively requires a comprehensive approach that combines conventional treatments with holistic therapies. By understanding the deep impact of HS on both physical and mental health, we can better support those who suffer from this debilitating condition. Reducing stigma, promoting awareness, and offering compassionate care are crucial steps toward improving the lives of HS patients.

In conclusion, HS is more than just a skin condition. It’s a profound medical issue that demands a multi-faceted treatment approach and a compassionate understanding of the patient’s experience. By bridging the gap between conventional and holistic medicine, we can offer hope and relief to those battling HS, helping them reclaim their quality of life.

Resources: 

HS Foundation

Boil Queen Instagram

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