So, back in 2014 I did a post about boils. And how they suck. And it was part of the 10 plagues of Crohn’s plan and I would start sneezing locusts next.
Thankfully, no one has started sneezing locusts. But the boils have persisted (on and off) since then. Which really is a pain. Literally.
Earlier this year CC went to her specialist at UNC and the doc asked if anything else (other than normal Crohn’s stuff) was going on and happened to mention the underarm boils. She took a look at it and said, “Oh, that’s Hidradenitis suppurativa!” While it’s not directly tied to Crohn’s Disease, it isn’t unusual for those with inflammatory bowel diseases to have this.
So what is Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)?
“Hidradenitis suppurativa (hi-drad-uh-NIE-tis sup-yoo-ruh-TIE-vuh) is rare, long-term skin condition that features small, painful lumps under the skin. They typically develop where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, the groin, between the buttocks and under the breasts. The lumps may break open and smell or cause tunnels under the skin…. Hidradenitis suppurativa develops when hair follicles become blocked and inflamed. No one knows exactly why this blockage occurs. Factors that may play a role include hormones, metabolic syndrome, genetics, an irregular immune system response, smoking and excess weight. Hidradentitis suppurativa is not caused by an infection and can’t be transmitted sexually. It’s not contagious and is not due to poor hygiene…. There is no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa. But early and long-term treatment may help control pain, promote wound healing, keep new lumps from forming and prevent complications.”
On the plus side, at least I know now what is going on and I got a referral to a dermatologist who specializes in HS and has dealt with a lot of Crohn’s patients who have this condition.
Since I’ve been dealing with this condition for as long as I have and I haven’t been responding well to antibiotic treatment for it and my armpits have become tunneled like Swiss cheese from this (FYI – if you do a web search for this condition it usually comes with photos, and it’s not a pretty condition) the suggested treatment is surgical.
Because apparently I have to have an annual surgical appointment. *eyeroll*
Luckily, compared to most other surgeries I’ve had this is really minor. No general anesthesia. Just local and it’s performed in the dermatologist office. But, basically CC is going to have her armpits sliced open and left open to heal to help the under-skin tunnels heal from the inside out. Yuck. Followed up with laser treatments in the armpits to remove the hair follicles to hopefully avoid this happening in the future (although there isn’t a “cure” for HS).
So, while not exciting (and definitely not pretty), at least there is a plan for dealing with this because we’re kinda tired of dealing with it.
But, at least this treatment comes with the added bonus of no more underarm shaving after the laser treatments! Silver lining and all.