Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also known as acne inversa, is an inflammatory and progressive skin condition.
HS causes lesions to form around folds in the skin. This can affect any area of the body where hair grows.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders describe HS as starting as pus-filled abscesses on the skin that are similar to boils. As the outbreak continues, these abscesses turn into hard lumps that change into painful lesions. The inflamed lesions often seep.
Scarring can occur as the lesions heal. Research suggests that scars can take a toll on the mental health of people who have HS.
Keep reading for more information on the treatment options available to help reduce the appearance of HS scars.
There are several potential treatment options for HS scarring. These include:
- dermabrasion or microdermabrasion
- laser resurfacing
- scar massage
The following sections will discuss each of these in more detail.
Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive procedure that does not require any recovery.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the procedure uses a mildly abrasive instrument to gently remove areas of rough skin, such as scarring.
However, it is important to note that the results will not last. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons indicate that a person will likely need two treatments per month at first and then one per month as part of a maintenance plan.
Microneedling is another minimally invasive procedure. The doctor will use a device that creates microscopic punctures in the skin. As the punctures heal, the body creates new collagen that will help reduce the appearance of scar tissue.
The procedure can cause mild swelling and skin flushing. A person will likely need three to five monthly treatments to achieve the desired result.
According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, laser resurfacing is an effective way to reduce the appearance of scars and other skin conditions.
There are several different types of laser. The most effective type for scar removal is a CO2 laser. Research suggests that CO2 laser surgery may help with reducing the appearance of HS scars. However, more research is necessary.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery say that healing typically takes 2–3 weeks. After that time, the results from the procedure should be apparent. During the healing time, the skin will appear flushed and raw.
HS Connect recommend that a person receive scar massaging within 2 years of undergoing any HS surgery or sustaining any injury.
The potential benefits of this include:
- preventing additional scar tissue from forming
- reducing the pain associated with the scar
- increasing range of motion
- improving the appearance of the scar
- improving blood flow, which can help the scar heal
There are not many surgical options for removing scars.
Surgery revision may help. However, insurance companies often view surgery revision as cosmetic surgery, which means that a person may need to spend money out-of-pocket for the procedure.
People may experience some pain following the procedure. A doctor may prescribe or recommend pain relief. After about 6–8 weeks, a person will notice a smaller, flatter scar that better matches the surrounding skin.
Before treatment, a person should talk to their doctor about the option of laser surgery. This may reduce the need for scar reduction surgery at a later date.
According to HS Connect, there are several creams and over-the-counter (OTC) products that can help with the appearance of scars from HS. Examples include creams containing vitamin K, shea butter, and OTC brands such as Mederma.
Before applying any cream or powder to the skin, a person should talk to their doctor about possible side effects and which cream might work best for them. A dermatologist can also point a person toward specific brands.
In general, creams are best for superficial scarring and will not work as well for deeper scars.
People with HS may be able to prevent or reduce scarring by starting treatment right away. There are a number of topical and oral treatments available for HS.
A person can talk to their doctor about the best treatment options and ways to prevent scarring. If scarring occurs, a person can talk to their doctor about the best options to reduce scarring following treatment.
Scarring is a common concern among people with active HS. However, there are treatment options available to reduce or prevent this. There are even some new biologic treatments that can inhibit inflammation and prevent scarring in severe HS.
Following treatment, a person can talk to their doctor about different options to reduce the size and appearance of scar tissue. Some methods, such as massage, may also help ease the pain associated with scars.
A person can talk to their healthcare provider about the best options for reducing scarring associated with HS.