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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 24 October 2021

Hundreds of people could have an excruciating skin disease but be too embarrassed to get diagnosed

It is common in adolescents, but can occur at any age.

An example of the sores.
An example of the sores.
Image: Shutterstock/guentermanaus

CHANCES ARE, YOU’VE never heard of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).

In fact, most people haven’t – but hundreds could be living with the disease without a diagnosis because they’re too embarrassed.

The incurable, chronic condition causes painful lesions, boils and deep abscesses in the armpits, groin and upper/inner thighs, between the buttocks and under the breasts can lead to devastating breakouts that rupture and leak foul-smelling fluid, soft tissue damage and painful scarring.

People who suffer are reticent to go to the doctor as the condition is usually diagnosed as an STI or linked with poor hygiene, though these aren’t causes. It is however linked with obesity and smoking.

It is common in adolescents, but can occur at any age, with women more likely to develop it.

Philosopher Karl Marx is believed to have suffered with HS.

The Irish Skin Foundation (ISF) has today launched a new awareness campaign around the illness, with one sufferer saying that the illness had changed his life.

Barry McGrath, who has lived with HS since he was a teenager, said:

When I developed HS as a thirteen year old my life was turned upside down. I slowly changed from an outgoing and sporty teenager to a very self-conscious and anxious person. It was hard for people to understand what I was going through; relationships were impossible, simple things such as walking were difficult at times and I was in constant pain. I was later diagnosed with depression and I felt as if HS had taken over my life.

However, Barry’s experience has improved in recent years, thanks in part to better treatments.

“Luckily, in the last few years I have had better success with treatments – I have also made a lot of important lifestyle changes. I wish the information that the Irish Skin Foundation has online was available to me when I was thirteen and I hope my story can help for others going through their own struggles with HS. ”

Those who feel like they or someone they know may be suffering should see their GP or click here.

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