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Mental Health in Hidradenitis Suppurativa

When many of us think of acne, we think of the classic red bumps and pustules on the face, chest, and back, usually emerging in early adolescence. Yet for those suffering and living with hidradenitis suppurativa, their “acne” is often hidden on concealed areas of skin, such as in the armpits, groin folds, and between the buttocks.[1] While usually covered by natural skin creases and everyday clothing, these lesions can become visible in instances such as swimming or working out, when more skin is displayed. During flares, these red nodules can become excruciatingly painful, burrow deeper in the skin, and drain foul-smelling fluid. For those who from hidradenitis suppurativa, something important to remember is that the disease is not contagious and not due to poor hygiene.[1]

 

What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Living with hidradenitis suppurativa is characterized by chronic inflammation of apocrine sweat glands and typically occurs around blocked hair follicles; it can be thought of as a severe variant of acne.[1] In the skin, sweat glands are divided into two main types: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine sweat glands are located throughout almost the entire body surface and help maintain body temperature.[2] Apocrine sweat glands are located in areas like the armpits and around the anus. These sweat glands begin functioning during puberty and activate during times of stress and sexual excitement.[3] These pheromone-producing glands are likely stimulated by the sex hormones that are synthesized in the onset of puberty.[4,5]

Unfortunately, the exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is not well understood, but medical providers know that it is more common in women, smokers, and overweight individuals.[6,7] It is estimated that this disease affects 1% of the United States population.[8,9] One proposed explanation is that when a hair follicle becomes plugged with bacteria and other skin debris, the body’s immune system overreacts, leading to the typical boil formation, pain, and drainage.[10]

 

Mental Health Issues in Those Living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Both healthcare providers and those who suffer from hidradenitis suppurativa should understand that the disease’s chronic nature can affect not only physical health but also mental health. In focus group interviews of hidradenitis suppurativa patients, many expressed that their hidradenitis suppurativa often limited their daily activities and made them apprehensive about making future plans due to concerns about potential disease flares.[11] They noted that flaring could last for up to two weeks, during which they felt helpless. In a Finnish study, one-quarter of patients suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa also had a psychiatric illness, such as depression. The study suggested that patients living with hidradenitis suppurativa suffered more from a mental health standpoint than those with other common skin conditions.[12]

 

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Affects Confidence

Many avoid public spaces, becoming isolated within the confines of their homes. One patient reported that after her initial diagnosis at age 14,[11] she feared to date and attempted to commit suicide several times due to low self-esteem. Other individuals felt they had a constant bad odor around them, prompting them to bathe and change clothes multiple times a day. Hidradenitis suppurativa can be socially catastrophic for patients, as those who are afflicted may not even feel comfortable speaking about the disease with their own family.[12] While this condition can promote isolation out of fear of embarrassment and/or stigmatization, discussing treatment plans with a healthcare provider can help improve hidradenitis suppurativa as well as mental health.

* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.

References

  1. Hidradenitis suppurativa | DynaMed Plus. 2017; Link to research.
  2. Kurosumi K, Shibasaki S, Ito T. Cytology of the secretion in mammalian sweat glands. Int Rev Cytol.1984;87:253-329; PMID: 6370891 Link to research.
  3. Braun-Falco O, Plewig GW, Helmut H. Burgdorf, Walter H. C. Diseases of the Apocrine Sweat Glands. Dermatology;10.1007/978-3-642-97931-6_29: Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2000:1083-1086.
  4. Beier K, Ginez I, Schaller H. Localization of steroid hormone receptors in the apocrine sweat glands of the human axilla. Histochemistry and Cell Biology.2005;123(1):61-65; PMID: Link to research.
  5. Alikhan A, Lynch PJ, Eisen DB. Hidradenitis suppurativa: a comprehensive review. J Am Acad Dermatol.2009;60(4):539-561; quiz 562-533; PMID: 19293006 Link to research.
  6. Woodruff CM, Charlie AM, Leslie KS. Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Guide for the Practicing Physician. Mayo Clin Proc.2015;90(12):1679-1693; PMID: 26653298 Link to research.
  7. Hidradenitis suppurativa | American Academy of Dermatology. 2017; Link to research. Accessed August 27, 2017.
  8. Deckers IE, van der Zee HH, Prens EP. Epidemiology of Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Prevalence, Pathogenesis, and Factors Associated with the Development of HS. Current Dermatology Reports.2014;3(1):54-60; PMID: Link to research.
  9. Vazquez BG, Alikhan A, Weaver AL, et al. Incidence of hidradenitis suppurativa and associated factors: a population-based study of Olmsted County, Minnesota. J Invest Dermatol.2013;133(1):97-103; PMID: 22931916 Link to research.
  10. Moran B, Sweeney CM, Hughes R, et al. Hidradenitis suppurativa is characterised by dysregulation of the Th17:Treg cell axis, which is corrected by anti-TNF therapy. J Invest Dermatol.2017;10.1016/j.jid.2017.05.033PMID: 28652108 Link to research.
  11. Jemec GB. Quality of life considerations and pain management in hidradenitis suppurativa. Semin Cutan Med Surg.2011;36(2):75-78; PMID: 28538748 Link to research.
  12. Huilaja L, Tiri H, Jokelainen J, et al. Patients with hidradenitis suppurativa have a high psychiatric disease burden: A Finnish nationwide registry study. J Invest Dermatol.2017;10.1016/j.jid.2017.06.020PMID: 28736236 Link to research.
BeautyHealthy AgingMicrobiomeNutritionHairNailsIngredientsStressDiagnosis and DetailsEnvironmentFitnessAyurvedaNaturopathyTCMWesternReproductive HealthSun CarePerspectivesCosmetics and ProceduresMakeupDevicesAnti-AgingAntioxidantsSkin MicrobiomeGut MicrobiomeProbiotics and PrebioticsDietFoodHerbs and BotanicalsVitamins and SupplementsBeauty SmartsNatural ProductsNatural IngredientsIngredient ScienceProduct InfoMental HealthMindfulnessMedicationsProceduresOTC ProductsClimateInfectionsMineralsExerciseYogaAyurveda BasicsHolistic TherapiesNaturopathy BasicsWestern BasicsPregnancySexual HealthSun SmartsSunscreenAcnePsoriasisRosaceaAtopic DermatitisAlopeciaVitamin DHerbal ExtractsOmega-3 Rich FoodsStress ReductionStress Effects on SkinMassageAcupunctureIntegrative ApproachWellnessMind Skin ConnectionQuality of LifeTeaHealthy FoodsSkin FoodsMushrooms and FungiFoods for Skin CareSuperfoodsLifestyle Tips for AcneDiet Effects on SkinEffects of DairySkingredientsNatural Oils for the SkinAlternative Approaches for EczemaSkin Barrier ProtectionEczemaSun ProtectionHealthy Sun HabitsUsing SunscreenHealthy HygieneKeratosis PilarisMoisturizersExfoliatorsSkin CareCleansersChoosing A SunscreenAntioxidants for SkinPhytochemicalsSupplementsNatural Skin CareEye CareDiagnosisAllergiesChemical Effects on the SkinSkin IrritationMelanoma Skin CancerSkin in PregnancyFood SensitivityGlycemic IndexOxidative StressSugar Effects on SkinHair Loss CausesHair HealthHair and NailsAestheticsNon-Surgical Cosmetic ProceduresCosmetic CornerBotulinum Toxin for CosmeticsFemale Sexual HealthVaginal HealthSexually Transmitted DiseaseHidradenitis SuppurativaAntibiotic Use for More Than InfectionsHarmful Effects of UV LightSkin Affects PsychologyMale Sexual HealthAccess To CareActinic KeratosesActive LifestyleAgingAlcoholAlternatives to AntibioticsAntibiotic UseAntioxidant FoodsAntiperspirantApps and ToolsAromatherapyAsian Skin CareAutoimmuneAutoimmune Skin DiseaseAvocadoAyurvedic ApproachesAyurvedic DoshasAyurvedic Medical ApproachesAyurvedic PractitionersBaby Skin CareBacteria and ParasitesBacteria, Fungi and ParasitesBacterial BiofilmsBalneotherapyBarber ShopsBasal Cell CarcinomaBasal Cell Skin CancerBathBathingBathing with Dry SkinBehavioral HealthBeneficial Effects of GroomingBeneficial Effects of OatsBeta GlucanBiological AgentsBiological MedicationsBiological TreatmentBiologicsBiomedicineBiopsyBleachBleach BathsBlistering DiseaseBlue Light EffectsBodyBody CareBody ContouringBody OilBotoxBotulinum ToxinBotulinum Toxin for Medical PurposesCalciumCancerCastorCelluliteChakras and the SkinChemicals Used in Skin ProductsChemistryChemotherapyChinese Medicine BasicsYoga For Skin HealthYellow NailsWrinklesWound HealingWoundWorld Influences on Skin CareWeight LossWater QualityCircadian RhythmWartsVitiligoClaysClothingVitaminsVitamin CComplementary and Alternative MedicineVitamin AVirusesCosmetic ProceduresCosmeticsVegan Skin CareUV LightCuppingUsing Steroids SafelyDrug ReactionsDry ScalpUltraviolet Light Based TreatmentDry SkinEffects of AgingTraditional Chinese Medicine ApproachesThe Skin We're InEnvironmental Effects on SkinThe Power of SleepEpigeneticsThe Microbiome in EczemaThe Benefits of PetsEssential OilsTechnology for Your SkinTanningExercise and Physical ActivitySystemic Medications for PsoraisisSweating More Than UsualEyelash CareFacial MasksFacialsSunburnFastingFat ReductionFiber IntakeSquamous Cell Skin CancerFinding Personal HarmonySportsSpironolactoneSkin Type ProfileSkin TipsSkin Signs of Internal DiseaseSkin ProcedureSkin of ColorSkin LighteningSkin Gut ConnectionSkin DNA ChangesSkin DiscolorationSkin DetoxSkin Care for MenSkin CancerSkin BlistersSkin BiopsySkin BasicsSkin Aging and Fine LinesShavingSensitive SkinScar TreatmentsSafety of IngredientsSafe SexRetinoidsResearch SpotlightRadiation TherapyProduct LabelsPower of Social MediaPollution Effects on SkinpH of the SkinPaleo DietOpinionOmega-3Oily SkinNicotinamideNiacinamideNaturopathic ApproachesNanoparticlesNail SalonsNail HealthNail CareNail BeautyMore Than Skin DeepFit Living is Healthy SkinMelasmaMediterranean DietGenetics of SkinMeditationGrainsMedications That Suppress the Immune SystemMedication TipsGreen TeaLights and LasersHair CareLifestyle Tips for EczemaHair GrowthLifestyleHair ReductionItchingIsotretinoin AccutaneHealthy BathingIntense Pulsed LightHealthy Living is Healthy SkinInsects and ParasitesHerbal CareInjectablesHome DevicesHomeopathyInfo on Product LabelsInfections of the SkinHyperhidrosisHoney Health for SkinHormone Effects on the SkinHow to Read Product LabelsSexualityMind and BodyIntegrative MedicineModern MedicineSkinChemicalsCosmeceuticalsNutraceuticalsLaser TreatmentsChinese MedicineAyurvedic MedicineNaturopathic MedicineDermatologistSkin Physics SpotlightMedicine BasicsNonmelanoma Skin CancerHealthy DrinksGut HealthDry ShampoosHair OilsPlant Based DietSoap AlternativesFacial CareMedicineIntegrative Approach to SkinStress and MindfulnessHair SupplementsFoods for Hair HealthEye and Oral CareHow Stuff WorksEstheticiansHair LossBack to BasicsEye MicrobiomeCOVID-19Viruses and Bacteria