4 Physical Signs of a Misdiagnosed Skin Condition That Increases the Risk of Depression and Scarring, and How to Treat It

A close-up of a woman’s blackhead-like lumps caused by suppurative hydradenitis.Getty Images

  • Suppurative hydradenitis (HS) is a commonly misdiagnosed skin condition that occurs in the armpits and groin.

  • HS can cause disability and depression if left untreated.

  • Painful, itchy, pus-filled bumps on the armpits, buttocks, genitals, and breasts are signs of HS.

Suppurative hydradenitis is a rare but potentially debilitating skin disease that can leave patients with disabilities or permanent scars.

Man with hands in front of penis due to pain.

The man had been suffering from “unbearable” penis pain for three days before presenting to doctors.Getty

A skin condition that affects the armpits, genitals, and breasts can have devastating impacts on patients, but is often misdiagnosed.

Suppurative hydradenitis (HS) only affects 1-4% of the population, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but the disease can have an “extreme impact on life.” The disease can cause painful, itchy, pus-filled bumps to form under the skin, and the size and pain of HS legions can create problems with mobility and flexibility. Patients with numerous legions can qualify for federal disability benefits.

Patients with HS are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a 2020 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. A 2018 article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that patients with HS have a significantly higher risk of suicide, which the authors considered a “very clear indicator of how deeply HS can affect patients’ lives.”

The condition is misdiagnosed because of the patient’s embarrassment at seeing a doctor, a doctor who is unfamiliar with the signs of HS and misinformation about treatments, Men’s Health reported.

HS starts during puberty and is more common among blacks, smokers, overweight people, and women. If detected early, doctors can manage the disease with antibiotics, prescription ointments, hormone pills and steroid injections, according to Kaiser Permanente.

Physical signs of the rare but debilitating condition include itchy lumps that fuse with overtime and cysts that form in the groin, armpits, or buttocks.

You have lumps the size of marbles or peas under your skin.

the nurse feels patient with lumps in her chest

LUIS ROBAYO / AFP via Getty Images

The most common signs of suppurative hydradenitis are painful lumps under the skin the size of a pea, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition begins with a painful nucleus that can persist for weeks or months. Lumps often heal slowly and come back, sometimes opening and filtering odorous pus.

HS can also present as various blackheads that appear on small, itchy areas of the skin.

The groin, genitals, armpits or buttocks contain pimples and itching.

man who gets up and itches his armpit

Getty Images

Skin disease affects areas that rub against and contain sweat glands, such as the armpit, groin, genitals, breasts, and buttocks.

Texas dermatologist Adam Mamelak told Men’s Health that people with suppurative hydradenitis may be embarrassed to see a doctor because the areas affected by the disease are sensitive, leading to a delayed diagnosis.

Your skin looks red, tender, and swollen in some areas.

The woman grabs her chest in pain with both hands

Getty Images

HS causes hair follicles or sweat glands to become clogged and inflamed due to abnormal overgrowth of cells. A person with the disease may experience red, tender, swollen skin around the armpits, ass, and other areas of the body that are rubbed, which is an early sign of HS, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Lumps that look like acne or boils begin to grow and come together.

small boil on the skin

Getty Images

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) said cysts or boils caused by suppurative hydradenitis heal and reopen repeatedly, causing the formation of hollow tunnels called sinus tracts under the skin.

Tunnels can cause lumps of suppurative hydradenitis to grow and come together as the disease progresses. These could turn into abscesses that fill with fluid, such as pus or blood, and become painful, according to the AADA.

Read the original article in Insider

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