Diagnosing Hidradenitis Suppurativa


What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), or acne inversa, is a chronic skin condition characterized by painful, boil-like lumps that form in blocked hair follicles under the skin. The lumps may eventually rupture and leak pus and blood. As the ruptures heal, hard, rope-like scars and sinus tracts (tunnels under the skin) often form, which can restrict movement.

Diagnosing hidradenitis suppurativa

The diagnostic process for HS typically begins with a medical professional asking questions about the lumps under the skin and any other symptoms. They may ask how long the lumps have been present, if they have occurred in the past, and if they are painful. They may also ask if any family members have had similar symptoms.

Next, the medical professional will visually examine the skin. They may also press on the lumps and make note of the areas of the body where they are located.

If one or more of the lumps contains or leaks pus, a sample may be collected and sent to a laboratory to rule out other potential causes of infection. In some cases, a skin sample may also be sent to a laboratory to rule out other conditions. There is no specific test used to diagnose hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment to help manage symptoms and prevent complications can begin.

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