It can feel like a dirty little secret.
HS isn’t infectious or contagious and it isn’t caused by poor hygiene. In severe cases of HS the painful sores can discharge foul-smelling pus and leave profound scars. “There was a point where I had multiple boils and I had to either stand up or lie down because sitting down was too painful,” states Rick Palmer, an HS sufferer. The disease can impact social interactions, job performance, and for some may lead to loneliness and isolation.
The cause is unclear.
No one knows what causes HS, but it’s thought that genetics, hormones, and the immune system overreacting to plugged hair follicles are at the root of the disease.
It’s often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
HS can be challenging to diagnose and is often misdiagnosed as common boils, acne or ingrown hair without the expertise of a dermatologist. Many patients experience a long delay in diagnosis and treatment, suffering while trying to manage the disease on their own. “It took me many visits to the doctor’s office before they realized the painful boil I had was actually HS,” says Palmer.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
There’s no cure for HS, but treatment can help control the disease and prevent it from worsening. Without early diagnosis and proper treatment, HS can lead to complications such as thick scars, serious infections, and mobility problems. It took Palmer years to find the right treatment to manage his symptoms. “I’m now in a place where I no longer experience any pain. I can travel, golf, and live a normal life.”
Talk to your doctor.
If you think you might have HS, check your symptoms and speak with your doctor about a referral to a dermatologist. If you’ve been diagnosed with HS, review your treatment plan and goals with your doctor.