HS misconceptions, debunked. Peace of mind, acquired.
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can be a debilitating inflammatory skin disease that is a mystery to many—except to dermatologists and perhaps those patients who’ve been treated for the condition for a long time.
“It is one of my jobs as a dermatologist to educate people about HS and put some of these myths and misconceptions to rest,” says Hirshel Kahn, MD, a dermatologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Here are five common myths about HS that derms (and longtime patients) wish you would stop believing.
Myth: Hidradenitis suppurativa is rare. Hidradenitis suppurativa is more common than previously thought, just under-recognized. It affects an estimated 1 to 4% of the worldwide population—mostly women, African Americans, late adolescents, and young adults. It’s also common in people who have a family history of HS. “One in three people who have hidradenitis suppurativa have a blood relative who has it,” says Dr. Kahn.
Myth: Hidradenitis suppurativa is contagious. Hidradenitis suppurativa wounds may look unpleasant, but they are in no way spread from person to person, says Dr. Kahn. The exact cause of HS in not clear, but experts believe that immune system, hormones, and family history play a major role.
Myth: Hidradenitis suppurativa is an STD. Since hidradenitis suppurativa can often appear in the groin area, specifically on the genitals, anus, and thighs, people are often concerned that their partners may think they have a sexually transmitted disease, but this just isn’t true, says Dr. Kahn.
Myth: Hidradenitis suppurativa is caused by poor hygiene. The underlying cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is not known in most cases, but derms do know it’s not because you’re not washing properly. “We do know for sure it’s not in any way related to poor hygiene,” says Dr. Kahn. HS develops when hair follicles become blocked and inflamed, which could be due to the immune system overreacting or, because it occurs after puberty, fluctuations in hormone levels. HS also tends to be more common in those who smoke or are overweight. These lifestyle factors, however, are only triggers, not causes.
Myth: Hidradenitis suppurativa can’t be treated. “The biggest myth is that there is nothing that can be done to make hidradenitis suppurativa better,” says Dr. Kahn. “There are so many things that can be done, both on the part of the patient, and in terms of the patient-doctor relationship.” Losing weight, quitting smoking if you smoke, and caring for your skin properly can make a significant difference in the severity of the condition and your quality of life. “Anything from daily wound care at home to taking medications to using more aggressive injectable treatments will all have a significant impact on this condition,” says Dr. Kahn. Be open and honest with your dermatologist about your needs and lifestyle, so he or she can help you find the best hidradenitis suppurativa treatment.
Dr. Kahn is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
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I think people potentially
may be embarrassed,
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may feel that it's contagious or
that it's associated with poor hygiene.
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And all these things are myths.
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It is one of my jobs as a dermatologist
to educate patients and
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educate people about
hidradenitis suppurativa and
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put some of these myths and
misconceptions to rest.
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It is a myth that hidradenitis
suppurativa is rare, in fact,
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1 to 4% of the population
have this disease.
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is under recognized.
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People may have it and
may not be aware that they have a disease.
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is more common in females,
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late adolescents and young adults.
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And there is a strong hereditary
factor in hidradenitis suppurativa.
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One in three people with hidradenitis
suppurativa have a blood relative who
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Hidradenitis suppurativa is
not in any way contagious.
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Wounds may look unpleasant but
this is in no way contagious.
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People are often concerned that
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their partners may think they have
a sexually transmitted disease.
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But this is in no way the case.
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Hidradenitis suppurativa is
not caused by poor hygiene.
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No one really knows
exactly why people get it.
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It's a condition caused by clogging of
pores and inflammation of hair follicles
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and that may be influenced by hormonal
factors or overactive immune system.
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But we do know for sure that it is not
in any way related to poor hygiene.
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The biggest myth is that there is
nothing that can be done to make
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hidradenitis suppurativa better.
00:02:04,347 --> 00:02:09,858
There are so many things that can be done,
both on the part of the patient and
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in terms of the patient, doctor
relationship, in terms of treating this.
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Anything from daily wound care at home,
to taking medications,
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to using more aggressive
injectable treatments will
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all have a significant
impact on this condition.
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Hidradenitis suppurativa. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (Accessed on January 18, 2018 at https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/painful-skin-joints/hidradenitis-suppurativa)
Hidradenitis suppurativa. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. (Accessed on January 18, 2018 at https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6658/hidradenitis-suppurativa)
Hidradenitis suppurativa: a common and burdensome, yet under-recognised, inflammatory skin disease. Copenhagen, Denmark: Department of Dermatology, Health Sciences Faculty, Roskilde Hospital, University of Copenhagen, 2014. (Accessed on January 18, 2018 at http://pmj.bmj.com/content/90/1062/216)