Living with Lupus

Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Lupus: Is there a link?

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Hidradenitis Suppurativa is an autoimmune disease that sometimes occurs alongside lupus.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. With Systemic Lupus, the whole body is affected. However, in Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE,) skin-related symptoms such as rashes, lesions, and dry, flaking, itchy skin. Lupus is often known as the “great imitator” because it can mimic symptoms of other diseases. However, lupus can occur alongside other diseases as well, sometimes even other autoimmune disorders. One of these disorders is Hidradentitis suppurativa, a chronic skin condition. This complicates matters, but could there be a deeper link? Could hidradentitis suppurativa and lupus be related?


What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (also known as HS) is an often-painful chronic skin condition that involves tender fluid-filled, blister- or boil-like lumps on the skin. Usually, HS occurs where skin is in contact with skin, such as the armpits, breasts, and groin, possibly due to irritation of the skin or moisture in those areas. Other symptoms include painful acne, itching, excessive sweating, and sensitive nodules in the skin

It can also evolve into blackheads, scarring, larger fluid-filled lumps, the lumps can break open like a blister and leak fluid and can heal improperly. 4.1% of people in the United States have HS. HS is not itself an autoimmune disease, and it can occur on its own, but often shows up alongside autoimmune diseases like lupus. It also might encourage inflammation, which increases the symptoms of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

However, at present, there is no direct link between HS and lupus


Hidradenitis Suppurativa Treatment and Lupus

HS is treated with medications like corticosteroids, medical procedures like deroofing, skin surgeries, and lancing, and even hair removal. You can read more about it, here

HS and SLE are treated with very different medications, and some of the medications for HS have been indicated in cases of Drug-induced lupus (DLE.) DLE is a form of lupus that occurs in response to the side effects of medications. DLE can sometimes be recovered from when medications are changed, but can also become a chronic illness. Treating lupus can sometimes reduce HS symptoms, which means that either the HS symptoms were actually lupus, or the reduced lupus-related stress on the body helped ease the symptoms of HS.

Much of the treatment for HS involves taking care of the open wounds that result from the lumps (or boils.) Antiseptic, vinegar, and wound dressing are key to avoiding infection.

Other treatments for HS include: Ice packs applied to the affected areas, or lidocaine, can reduce the pain and itchiness of that particular area of skin.

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