14 Common Causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa describes a chronic skin disease causing inflammation of the sweat glands and hair follicles. Medical science also refers to this condition as acne inversa. Patients notice the appearance of tiny bumps under the surface of the skin. It can take several weeks or months for the bumps to spread in the affected area. However, the bumps will eventually join under the skin, resulting in an effect called “tunneling.”

The bumps may also fill with pus and break, resulting in crusting around the affected area. Patients who are dealing with the condition may notice that broken bumps or tunnels may result in thick, rope-like scars forming in the skin, resulting in permanent damage. 

Patients require treatment with medications and or surgery to unblock the pores and prevent the condition from spreading. The most common areas for development of hidradenitis suppurativa include, under the arms, in the groin, and under the skin folds of the breasts.

1. Skin Pore Blockage

Skin bumps associated with hidradenitis suppurativa typically occur in people as they enter puberty, and may last until as late as their 40s. The disease occurs due to blockages in pores, sweat glands, and hair follicles, resulting in the accumulation of skin oils under the surface of the skin. As a result, the patient starts to experience the onset of small bumps in the affected area. 

As time progresses, the bumps grow to the size of a pea and start to spread. If left untreated and unmanaged, the bumps may split open resulting in pus weeping from the broken blisters. Eventually, the bumps starter form together under the skin, resulting in an effect named tunneling. The blisters may also start to turn from a reddish-pink appearance to black as the tunneling effect continues.

The skin pore blockage does not occur because of poor hygiene. The most common cause for the development of the bumps is due to skin oils becoming trapped below the surface of the skin. Medical science believes this occurs due to hormonal changes in the affected individual.

2. Acne

Acne is a terrible skin disorder affecting many pubescent Adolescents. The condition has an effect both on the skin and the self-image of the affected individual. Teens who experience acne outbreaks may feel ostracized from their friends and social communities. As a result, they may start to exhibit anti-social behavior or a severe reduction in their self-image.

Acne is also a supporting factor for the onset of hidradenitis suppurativa. As with acne, the condition occurs due to blockages in the pores sweat glands and hair follicles of the skin. However, the condition differs from acne, in the fact that small bumps form under the skin, as the follicles and pores experience a blockage. These pea-sized bumps may also blister and burst, causing pus to weep onto the surface of the skin.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is similar to acne in the fact that it is challenging for medical professionals to treat the condition. Affected individuals require treatment with medication and topical creams to reduce the inflammation in the skin and clear the blockage is in the pores, sweat glands, and follicles.

3. Diabetes

More than 30-million Americans are living with the blood sugar disorder known as diabetes. A further 60-million Americans are also dealing with the effects of prediabetes, which is the precursor to diabetes. Diabetes causes many health problems in patients, including the onset of skin disorders, such as acne and hidradenitis suppurativa.

Diabetes occurs due to patients who have elevated levels of blood glucose. As a result of consistently high blood sugar levels, the pancreas starts to lose its ability to produce insulin. The body also enters a state of insulin resistance where it requires more insulin in the pancreas can produce to manage blood sugar levels.

Patients with diabetes may start to experience a slew of adverse health conditions that affect all the organs in the body, including the skin. People with diabetes that notice the formation of hidradenitis suppurativa should visit a doctor for a diagnosis and course of treatment.

4. Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every year over 600,000-Americans die from some form of heart disease. Coronary artery disease is one of the leading culprits, and the condition occurs due to a buildup of LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. There are many reasons for increases in LDL levels, with most of them occurring due to lifestyle factors.

Overeating fast food, or foods rich in saturated fat and sugar can lead to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, leading to the onset of coronary artery disease, (CAD). Other lifestyle factors such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can also exacerbate the condition. People with heart disease often experience side effects of the condition that affect other organs in the body, such as the skin.

As a result, patients with heart disease may also develop the onset of conditions like hidradenitis suppurativa. By improving lifestyle factors and eating a healthy diet, you may find that the severity of the condition diminishes and the skin returns to health.

5. Digestive Disorders

Another cause of hidradenitis suppurativa relates to digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, and IBD. These gastrointestinal disorders cause massive amounts of inflammation in the digestive system, resulting in a swelling of the intestinal wall. 

Inflammatory particles pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. As a result, the body starts to experience systemic inflammation that affects every biological system, including the skin.

Medical science now understands the role of inflammation in creating disease. Almost every physiological and psychological disorder stems from the onset of inflammation. When the skin becomes inflamed, it may cause blockages in the force sweat glands and hair follicles, resulting in oils becoming trapped below the surface of the skin.

As a result of the blockages, the affected individual may notice the start of the development of the bumps responsible for hidradenitis suppurativa. By reducing gastrointestinal inflammation, you minimize your risk of developing this skin disorder.

6. Obesity

More than 160 million Americans are obese or overweight. Obesity, similar to diabetes, is responsible for numerous other adverse health disorders. People that are obese experience an increase in white adipose tissue, (WAT), which starts to release hormones into the bloodstream. As a result of these hormone changes, the patient may start to experience the onset of hidradenitis suppurativa.

Obese people also tend to sweat more in hot weather, and during physical exertion, due to them carrying excess weight. When hidradenitis suppurativa starts to present in obese patients, they may experience a rapid onset of the condition, due to the skin under the armpits and in between the groin becoming sweaty. This increase in perspiration causes heightened symptoms of skin irritation.

People who are obese should lose weight to improve their health, as well as avoid adverse skin conditions such as hidradenitis suppurativa. The effects of the skin disorder may be far more apparent and extreme in obese people, as the skin does not receive enough airflow to help it dry out and reduce the symptoms of inflammation and irritation associated with the disease.

7. Hormone Imbalance

Hidradenitis suppurativa typically occurs in adolescents as they enter puberty. During the stage of development, teens experience changes in their hormone profile. Boys start to experience an elevation in the male hormone testosterone, and girls experience elevations in estrogen levels. Most teens notice changes in mood as well as their thinking, resulting in both physiological and psychological changes.

However, these changes are not always for the better. Some teens may start to notice complications with their skin, such as acne. Hidradenitis suppurativa is similar to acne and its effects on the skin, but it causes much more damage and may result in permanent scarring or pitting.

Unfortunately, there is nothing doctors can do to stop these hormonal changes as they are part of growing up. The best physicians can offer patients, is a treatment for the skin condition using certain medications and topical creams that reduce inflammation of the epidermis. Some patients may find that the condition stops reoccurring after they enter their mid-20s, and hormone levels start to stabilize.

8.  Skin Disorders

Other skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis, may also lead to the onset of hidradenitis suppurativa. Medical science is still unclear for the exact cause of both eczema or psoriasis, with many health professionals thinking that these skin diseases may be related to the onset of an autoimmune disorder. 

With these autoimmune disorders, antibodies and white blood cells attack healthy skin cells, resulting in the formation of a rash that presents severe itching symptoms and inflammation in the skin.

It is common for people with eczema and psoriasis to experience rashes or plaques in the same areas where hidradenitis suppurativa appears. Some patients may find that they experience the onset of hidradenitis suppurativa, either during or after, the rash or plaques clear.

If you noticed the onset of hidradenitis suppurativa while dealing with either psoriasis or eczema, visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor may be able to treat the condition using corticosteroids, topical creams, or other medications to help the skin deal with excess inflammation.

9. Hormone Treatments

There are many different reasons why hormone treatments might be prescribed. With some types of health conditions, there is a natural deficiency of some hormones or overproduction of some others – and this can be controlled by clinical means. Other times, people might be placed on hormone treatments after gender reassignment surgery in order to maintain natural hormone levels with some pharmaceutical help.

These hormone treatments can place the body back in the second form of puberty and can make many of the hormone-related issues that you would associate with puberty occur again. These symptoms can sometimes include general irritability and mood changes, but can also include hair growth, acne and also hidradenitis suppurativa. 

If you experience any symptoms that go together with hormone treatment, speak to your doctor to find out if the medication or dosage can be adjusted in order to bring some relief to the symptoms experienced. 

10. Some Types of Cosmetics

Everyone knows that natural beauty doesn’t come easily: The majority of women out there and an increasing number of men use cosmetics products before they leave the house – and everyone also knows that cosmetics generally isn’t great for the skin. While many skin creams and skin elixirs are designed to help the skin heal and feel younger, the same can’t be said for a lot of make-up out there. 

Make-up remover is a product in the first place because make-up needs to be removed soon after its application. If you don’t, then cosmetics can prove to be the worst thing for your skin – and it might increase your likelihood of developing acne or hidradenitis suppurativa. 

If you notice that your cosmetics have any adverse effects on your skin or general health, switch over to different products or stop using make-up entirely for a while. See your doctor where any of the symptoms persist. 

11.Improper Hair Tweezing

Almost everyone out there has stared in a mirror at their own face armed with a small pair of tweezers (or sometimes fingernails) attempting to remove a wayward hair from somewhere it shouldn’t be pointing to at least once in their lives. While almost everyone can report a similar experience, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for your skin to do it. 

Laser hair removal is a worthwhile process; It’s much less dangerous to the skin than trying to pluck out hair yourself. Home hair removal can have many associated risks, and the constant irritation of the follicles might cause health conditions like hidradenitis suppurativa. 

In some cases, repeated plucking of hair over a long period of time can even put you at an increased risk of a serious skin infection or cancer. You should see your doctor if you experience any skin irritation that doesn’t go away over a long period of time. 

12. Hair Removal Products

If you’d like to see any hair on your body removed for the long term, the best thing you can do and the safest possible thing for your health is to make an appointment with a professional hair removal specialist. They are trained to do what they do and this is for very good reason. If you attempt hair removal yourself at home, you’re likely to become one of the thousands of horror stories that can tell tales of hair removal gone wrong. 

Many hair removal products can irritate the skin, especially in more sensitive parts of the body where people are more likely to use these products. 

The skin irritation is what eventually increases your potential risk of developing skin conditions like hidradenitis suppurativa. Where you notice any pain, skin irritation or a rash after using a skincare or hair removal product, discontinue use until symptoms have stopped (and see your doctor should any of the symptoms continue after this). 

13. The Wrong Clothing

Wearing the wrong type of clothing for your body can sometimes be a cause that irritates the skin and follicles enough to cause hidradenitis suppurativa or any other number of related skin conditions. By the wrong type of clothing, it has nothing to do with your style but will have everything to do with the type of fabric and the way it fits on your body.

Repeated skin irritation can be one of the most common causes of this type of skin condition, and ill-fitting clothes and fabric allergies are common irritants to the skin. 

If you experience itchiness and a rash, it could be the material your clothes are made from. Sometimes it can also be the washing powder instead of the clothing that causes your irritation. Switch around several factors until you’ve found the one that makes the difference to your condition. If not, consult a dermatologist. 

14.  Shaving with a Dull Razor Blade

Waxing, hair removal products, and tweezers aren’t the only ways of hair removal that people make use of every day. Many people just opt for using a razor blade – which is usually safe where you don’t cut yourself – but the use of a razor blade can still have many associated health effects, especially if you use the same blade for too long. 

Ideally, you should discard and replace your razor blade once every few months. When a razor becomes dull, it “drags” through hair more than it does slice through it, and this pulls the hair out instead. 

In the long run, this irritates the skin – and can irritate the skin enough to trigger serious skin conditions that include hidradenitis suppurativa. 

Replace your razors regularly, and speak to a skincare professional if you still experience any chronic skin issues after this or want to find out what other hair removal options are out there. 

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