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Axillary Hidradenitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery

What Is Axillary Hidradenitis?

Axillary Hidradenitis is an extremely rare but chronic and longstanding skin disorder characterized by small painful lumps in the axillary or the armpit region. This is the area where the skin rubs together causing friction and heat. These lumps at times may break and cause foul odor from the region. Axillary Hidradenitis is normally seen after an individual attains puberty.

Axillary Hidradenitis tends to persist and may even get worse as the individual grows old. Axillary Hidradenitis can significantly affect the overall daily life of an individual and may dent the overall confidence of the individual due to the smelling lumps in the armpits which may create a social embarrassment for the individual.

An early diagnosis of Axillary Hidradenitis may help prevent further formation of lumps and keep the symptoms to a minimum and even prevent complications from occurring due to this skin condition.

What Is Axillary Hidradenitis?

What Are The Causes Of Axillary Hidradenitis?

The root cause of Axillary Hidradenitis is the blockage and inflammation of the hair follicles in the axillary region. Why this blockage or inflammation takes place is something which is still not yet known.

Some of the factors which may play a role in the development of Axillary Hidradenitis are hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders, and genetic makeup of the individual, immune system irregularity, excessive smoking and obesity.

There is no evidence to suggest that infection may be a cause of Axillary Hidradenitis. There is also no evidence to suggest that sexual intercourse may result in transmission of Axillary Hidradenitis.

What Are The Symptoms Of Axillary Hidradenitis?

As stated, Axillary Hidradenitis occurs due to blockage and inflammation of the hair follicles in the axillary or the armpit region. Some of the symptoms that can be experienced as a result of Axillary Hidradenitis are:

  • Presence of blackheads in the armpits
  • There is presence of red and tender bumps in the armpits which may be itchy and have foul odor to it. At times, these bumps may produce a burning sensation in the armpits. These lumps may increase in size with time and tend to become painful.
  • The lumps may start draining pus

Normally, Axillary Hidradenitis begins after an individual attains puberty but may begin in individuals between the ages of 15-40. They usually begin with a single lump in the axillary region which slowly start to progress and ultimately there may be numerous lumps located in the axillary region.

How Is Axillary Hidradenitis Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Axillary Hidradenitis may be made after a careful inspection of the axillary region and taking a detailed history of the patient. Unfortunately, there are no specific laboratory investigations available which can confirm the diagnosis of Axillary Hidradenitis.

In cases of drainage of pus or fluid from the lumps, the physician may take a sample of the fluid and send that for analysis for ruling out infections and other skin disorders. Once all other conditions have been ruled out, the diagnosis is confirmed of Axillary Hidradenitis.

How Is Axillary Hidradenitis Treated?

There is no cure for Axillary Hidradenitis and treatment is aimed at reducing the severity of the symptoms. If the diagnosis of Axillary Hidradenitis is made early enough and treatment started then future spread of the lumps to other areas of the body may be prevented.

Early treatment also helps prevent complications that may arise as a result of Axillary Hidradenitis. It also helps in promoting wound healing. There are various treatment options available for treating Axillary Hidradenitis.

Medications in the form of topical agents and retinoids are quite effective in treatment of Axillary Hidradenitis. Steroids can be used for decreasing the inflammation. Oral steroids can be given for a short period of time as taking steroids chronically may have detrimental effects on the body.

Hormone therapy has also shown effectiveness when it comes to treatment of Axillary Hidradenitis, although further tests need to be done to come to a definitive conclusion. Hormone therapy is not suggested for pregnant females dealing with Axillary Hidradenitis.

Immune suppressants are also quite effective in treating Axillary Hidradenitis. For pain relief pain medications may be recommended.

There are also certain surgical procedures that can be done for treatment of Axillary Hidradenitis. Some of the surgical treatment options are:

Punch Debridement: This surgical procedure is basically done to remove a single nodule.

Incision & Drainage: This is yet another surgical procedure which can be done in the axillary region to treat Axillary Hidradenitis. However, this treatment only provides short term relief and the lumps tend to come back after some time.

STEEP Procedure: This surgical procedure is reserved for individuals dealing with severe form of Axillary Hidradenitis. This surgery involves electrosurgical peeling of the lumps. The main aim of this procedure is to preserve the healthy tissue and remove the inflamed tissue causing Axillary Hidradenitis.

Surgical Removal: Surgical removal of the lumps is yet another way to get rid of the lumps caused by Axillary Hidradenitis. Postprocedure a skin graft may be required to hide the scars caused by the lumps formed as a result of Axillary Hidradenitis.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2023

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