[Hidradenitis suppurativa]

Erlend Tolaas, Cathrine Wold Knudsen, Lisbet Sviland, Kim Alexander Tønseth
Tidsskrift for Den Norske Lægeforening: Tidsskrift for Praktisk Medicin, Ny Række 2009 May 14, 129 (10): 992-6

BACKGROUND: Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by recurrent tender nodules and boils, usually in the armpits and groins. Draining fistulas and hypertrophic scarring are hallmarks of more severe disease. The objective of this article is to review the clinical presentation, diagnostic considerations and treatment of the disease.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The article is based on a non-systematic literature search in PubMed, review of dermatology textbooks and the author's personal clinical experience.

RESULTS: Hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as acne inversa, is a follicular occlusion disease that can severely reduce quality of life. Staphylococci and other pathogenic bacteria frequently colonize the lesions, but the disease is not primarily a bacterial infection. Smoking and obesity can worsen disease activity. Moderate and severe disease is usually treated with excisional surgery. Antibiotics, often tetracyclines, are indicated for mild disease and as an adjunct to surgery in more severe disease. Antibiotics, however, are not curative. New treatment options, such as TNF-alpha inhibitors and zinc gluconate should still be considered experimental.

INTERPRETATION: Hidradenitis suppurativa is probably underdiagnosed. The disease is often recalcitrant to treatment. The effect of medical treatment is not supported by high quality evidence.

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