Guest Blogger: Tia M. Ivy

My name is Tia M. Ivy, around 2010/2011, I begin to notice nodules in my armpits then later in other areas of my body. It was not until 2017, that my Primary Care Physician diagnosed me with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. My Primary Care Physician did a physical examination, prescribed antibiotics and advised me to follow up with a dermatologist. During my dermatology visit, a boil was swabbed to rule out any other skin conditions or infections. Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes painful lumps and nodules to develop in the armpits, groin, breast, thigh and anal regions. It is believed that the disease is caused by an obstruction to the hair follicles and inflammation of the sweat glands. Hidradenitis Suppurativa is  more prevalent in women and African-Americans. Some studies have found that 30 to 40 percent of affected individuals have at least one family member with the disorder. On the average there is a 7-year delay in diagnosis.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa usually develops around puberty because this is when sweat glands are activated by hormones called sex hormones which increases during puberty. I believe I have had this disease my entire life. Around age 12 or 13, I began to have issues with deodorant. My underarm perspiration was stronger in smell than most young girls my age. There were many years of trying to find deodorants that would prevent or reduce perspiration to help with the odor.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa affects every aspect of your life. I frequently deal with bouts of depression, anxiety and severe pain due to the lumps and nodules. There are days when I do not want to get out of bed or go to bed around 6 p.m. and not wake up until the next morning. Going to the grocery store and shopping for groceries is difficult. Running simple errands is exhausting.

While there is no cure for the disease, there are treatments which help manage pain, reduce and prevent the formation of lumps and nodules. In September 2015, the Food and Drug Administration approved Humira for the treatment of moderate to severe Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Other treatments for Hidradenitis Suppurativa are antibiotics which help to reduce inflammation and stop new breakouts; corticosteroids that are injected into the lumps; pain medications that help relieve discomfort and surgical excision that removes the area affected by Hidradenitis Suppurativa. In October 2018, I underwent surgical excision to remove Hidradenitis Suppurativa from both my left and right thighs. In August 2019, I will undergo surgical excision to remove Hidradenitis Suppurativa from both my left and right underarms.

My advice to any that is suffering from Hidradenitis Suppurativa is to be hopeful and maintain a positive outlook. Learn everything you can about Hidradenitis Suppurativa, just maybe you might be able to help someone get an early diagnosis. Get emotional support for yourself, seek out other individuals who are also dealing with a chronic disease and find a new hobby.