Suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can be a painful and isolating experience.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa occurs as a result of an obstruction of the hair follicles and a secondary infection and, sometimes, the inflammation of certain sweat glands. It’s a progressive and chronic condition where pus-filled abscesses become hard lumps, then painful, deep-seated clusters of lesions that ooze constantly. Those clusters generally appear in the armpit and groin and around the anus and breasts.
The surge in sex hormones at puberty triggers most cases—the abscesses can easily be mistaken for boils or severe acne in the early going—but Hidradenitis Suppurativa can also begin during the twenties and thirties. And girls and women appear to be three times more likely to be affected than boys and men. The exact underlying cause remains a bit of mystery, but HS is believed to result from some combination of genetic and environmental factors.
About one in a hundred people are diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, according to a recent estimate, though it’s common for people to suffer in silence for years because they’re too ashamed of their symptoms to seek treatment.
HS symptoms can improve momentarily before worsening again. Those flare-ups can be triggered by lots of things, including menstruation, stress, weight gain, and perspiration.
There is no known cure for HS at the moment. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, though what works for someone may not be as effective for another. There is, however, a prescription medication that’s showing some promising results for moderate to severe HS.
A promising treatment
In 2015, Humira became the first prescription medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of HS, and it remains the only one. Though, dermatologists have been prescribing Humira for over 10 years for other inflammatory skin diseases, including moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis and active psoriatic arthritis.
How effective is it in reducing the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe HS? In a clinical trial involving more than 600 adult patients, Humira reduced the total number of inflammatory nodules and abscesses by at least half in many patients within three months, and without an increase in draining wounds and abscesses.
How it works
Humira is believed to help by blocking the source of the inflammation. With HS, the body produces an excess of a protein called TNF-alpha. That, along with other proteins, increases inflammation, which, in turn, leads to the abscesses.
Humira targets the inflammation, not just the symptoms on the skin’s surface. It binds to the TNF-alpha, blocking the inflammation underneath the skin. With a reduction in the inflammation, a decrease in the number of abscesses and nodules on the skin should follow.
If you’re struggling with HS, diagnosed or undiagnosed, schedule an appointment with me so we can find out if Humira’s a good fit for you. It may be the lifeline you’ve needed to restore some normalcy to your life.