Hidradenitis Suppurativa: The Skin Condition You’ve Never Heard of But You’ll Never Forget


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It’s more common than most people think that results in severe rashes, boils and cysts. Now, a former Washington newswoman is sharing her own painful journey and how she eventually found treatment.

Jackie Nedell is a former Washington journalist but she’s the one making news by going public about suffering from the rare and painful skin condition – hidradenitis suppurativa, or H.S.

“It took me three and a half years with hundreds and hundreds of these lesions and boils that burned and were so painful, I can’t even describe to you. I was so embarrassed; I had all these scars and boils on my back when I went to the pool. I’d wear little T-shirts. I was just humiliated,” Jackie recalls about her condition.

The cause of H.S. is unknown. It consists of painful lumps or boils that most often form in areas like the armpits, breasts, buttocks and the groin. It affects more women than men. Jackie suffered for three and a half years before she finally found relief with Professor and Chair of Dermatology and Director of the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Program at the George Washington School of Medicine, Adam Friedman, MD.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Friedman explains, “This is a chronic condition, we can’t cure, we can only contain, but it’s gonna be a combination of local care, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial washes.”

And that’s just the H.S. you can see. The disease is systemic, meaning it’s inflicting damage on other organs through inflammation. Dr. Friedman is using biologics to treat that.

“Fifty percent of people will have an inflammatory arthritis, many will have high blood pressure, diabetes, mental health disorders, clinical depression,” adds Dr. Friedman.

Jackie is now a year and a half into remission.

“And I feel like I’m a whole new person, and don’t feel self-conscious, and most of the scars have faded – not all,” she says with relief.

Jackie encourages people with H.S. to seek out the best therapy for relief of this disease. If you suspect you have H.S., check our website for more information on hsconnect.org.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Matt Goldschmidt, Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5357

BACKGROUND: Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also known as acne inversa, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by painful, recurrent nodules, abscesses, and sinus tracts typically affecting the armpits, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts. This condition can have a significant impact on quality of life due to pain, discomfort, and embarrassment associated with lesions and scarring. HS presents as tender, inflamed nodules or abscesses in areas rich in apocrine sweat glands, such as those found in the armpits, groin, and buttocks. Over time, chronic inflammation may lead to the formation of interconnected sinus tracts beneath the skin, which can ooze pus and foul-smelling discharge. Healing of lesions may result in hypertrophic scars, keloids, or sinus tracts, leading to significant cosmetic and functional impairment. HS is considered a rare disease affecting about 200,000 patients in the United States.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hidradenitis-suppurativa/symptoms-causes/syc-20352306#:~:text=Hidradenitis%20suppurativa%20(hi%2Ddrad%2D,%2C%20groin%2C%20buttocks%20and%20breasts.

DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing Hidradenitis Suppurativa can be challenging due to its varied presentation and similarity to other skin conditions. However, healthcare providers typically rely on a combination of clinical examination, medical history, and occasionally, diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. Typically during an exam, a doctor will examine the affected areas, including the armpits, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts, for the presence of characteristic lesions. Diagnosis will also require a detailed medical history, ruling out other conditions, diagnostic tests such as skin biopsies and imaging studies, and a severity assessment. Early recognition and diagnosis are crucial for initiating appropriate treatment and minimizing disease-related complications.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hidradenitis-suppurativa/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352311

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new CO2 laser treatment is being recommended for HS patients in stage I or II. The therapy targets focal radical vaporization of all HS lesions while preserving the surrounding healthy tissues. The treatments were reported to be more successful than previous treatments are reduced the need for repeated surgeries and reduced the overall costs of care for HS patients.

(Source: https://www.hs-institute.com/post/co2-laser-surgery-for-hs#:~:text=Notable%20benefits%20to%20the%20CO2,the%20overall%20costs%20of%20care.


Anne Banner


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Adam Friedman, MD, Chair of Dermatology

Read the entire Q&A