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Surprisingly common skin disease frequently misdiagnosed

Hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS, is a painful, unpleasant skin condition that affects many people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country who may have a difficult time receiving a proper diagnosis. While HS leads to lumps, boils, pain and growing wounds, up to 64% of patients with the disease needed to visit at least five different doctors before receiving a diagnosis. On average, patients wait 10 years to get a proper diagnosis and adequate treatment. HS tends to appear as small lumps in the armpits, groin and other areas with high levels of skin-to-skin contact. At first glance, HS resembles other types of boils or abscesses, common acute skin symptoms.

However, HS differs because the boils return repeatedly to the same location. They may appear the same as typical boils, developing from a sweat gland or hair follicle. Even after they go away or are lanced by a medical professional, they often return to the same location. When people have HS, boils can grow and develop through “tunnels” beneath the skin. The resulting wounds can seep fluid. While HS is often considered rare and is frequently misdiagnosed, it affects one out of every 100 people.

In most cases, people with HS develop symptoms on both sides of the body simultaneously, differentiating these from typical boils and lesions. If people do not receive proper treatment due to inaccurate diagnosis, the disease can progress. The pain may be so great that HS sufferers cannot walk or lift their arms. For 15% of sufferers, HS is a disabling condition.

When people do not receive a proper diagnosis due to a medical error, they may suffer serious effects on their health as well as their work and social life. People who have experienced worsened health conditions due to a doctor’s mistake may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about the potential to pursue compensation.