Painful skin condition more common than previously thought

PLANTATION, Fla. – There was a time when the simple act of reaching for a glass in her kitchen cupboard was excruciatingly painful for Priscilla Victorin. 

For years, she's struggled with a condition called hidratenitis suppurativa, or HS.

"It affected my job because I started calling out more and more because it would be too painful. Just taking a shower, I had to take four Vicodin because everything hurt. It hurt to move," Victorin said.

HS is a disease that usually causes pimple-like bumps on the skin that can grow deep, become infected and cause thick scars.

"The first step in this disease is getting an abscess, and it might get lanced, it might not. It might go away on its own after a hot soak but it recurs and in the same area. The constant healing and explosion and healing and explosion leaves you with tunnels and tracks that interconnect. It's like an ant farm within the skin," Dr. Barry Resnick, a dermatologist, said.

Using a scalpel to remove the affected skin can leave patients with limited mobility, which is why Resnick uses a CO2 laser to excise the area.

"Using a laser allows me to cut that skin away with just a little bit of fat underneath it and I'm not creating a really deep defect. I may be creating a wide defect, but it's a defect that can heal on its own," he said. 

It took several months for Victorin ​​to fully recover from the laser procedure, but she said she's finally comfortable in her own skin.

"Life is great now. Life is awesome," she said. 

Because HS can look a lot like acne, folliculitis or boils, it's best to see a dermatologist at the first sign of problems.

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent HS from worsening. 

Here is a list of symptoms:

- Mild itching 

- Blackheads

- Painful pea-sized lumps.

- Deep-acne like cysts 

- Folliculitis 

- Tunnels connecting lumps under the skin

- Thick scars 

- Inflamed nodules that rupture causing abscesses

Source: Mayo Clinic, The American Academy of Dermatology and  The U.S. National Library of Medicine

About the Authors: