Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin disease affecting areas that possess apocrine (special sweat glands) including the underarms, groin and other skin folds. Patients develop nodules, cysts, sinus tracts and pus-filled pockets. This can be a chronic condition that leads to odor, pus-drainage, bleeding, pain and embarrassment. Scarring may be the end result of chronic disease. Patients with hidradenitis suppurtiva may also have severe acne, pilonidal sinus of the buttocks, dissecting cellulitis of the scalp---constituting the so-called follicular occlusion tetrad.

Hidradenitis suppurativa occurs when oil glands and hair follicles become blocked with sweat gland fluid, dead skin cells and other elements found in hair follicles. These substances become trapped and push out into the surrounding tissue. A break or cut of the skin then allows bacteria to enter the area and cause the inflammation.

Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, home remedies work well, such as warm compresses and regular washing with antibacterial soap. In more difficult cases, a topical or oral antibiotic medications may be needed to treat the infection. More severe cases may require oral retinoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as infliximab and oral corticosteroids. Surgery to remove diseased tissue with skin grafting may be a last resort.