What is hidradenitis suppurativa?
Hidradenitis suppurative (HS) is a long term condition that causes painful scarring and abscesses on the skin. Typically the scarring and abscesses develop in areas where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, buttocks, groin, and breasts. The abscesses may spread to the inner thighs, waistband, and nape of the neck.
These lumps can be very painful and have negative impacts on the sufferer’s quality of life. Some lumps can become infected with bacteria and result in secondary infections.
Additionally, people who suffer from hidradenitis suppurative can develop small holes or “tunnels” in the skin known as pilonidal sinuses.
What causes hidradenitis suppurativa?
Hidradenitis suppurativa tends to begin after puberty. It develops when the hair follicles become blocked. It is not infectious and is not linked to having poor hygiene such as infrequent washing or shaving one’s armpits.
Some risk factors for hidradenitis suppurativa include obesity, tobacco use, severe acne, arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and metabolic syndrome.
It also runs in families in about one of every three cases. As the condition is less common before puberty and after menopause, sex hormones may play a part in its development. Hidradenitis suppurativa is more common in women than in men.
In some rare cases, hidradenitis suppurativa may be associated with Chron’s disease. This is more likely if the disease develops around the groin area.
What complications can occur with hidradenitis suppurativa?
Areas of the body which are affected by hidradenitis suppurativa are susceptible to secondary infection.
Pus is a common occurrence in hidradenitis suppurativa; however, this does not necessarily indicate that the area is infected. However, it can still have a very negative impact on the quality of life.
The first occurrence may be a single painful bump which becomes very inflamed and can last days or months, which repeated outbreaks of the single bump in the same location or same general area. Additionally, the bumps can be very itchy, with small, pitted areas with blackheads. The area may heal but then develop scars which resemble ropes or pitted skin.
When the disease affects the thighs or armpits, it may cause walking or moving the arms to become very painful.
Additionally, when hidradenitis suppurativa abscesses occur in areas where lymph nodes are present, the lymphatic drainage system may be impacted. This can cause swelling in the arms or the legs, which further affects the ability to walk or perform normal postural movements.
In addition to physical symptoms, the drainage and odor of the abscesses may cause social isolation due to embarrassment and reluctance to go out in public. This can further cause depression and anxiety to occur.
How is hidradenitis suppurativa diagnosed?
Hidradenitis suppurativa is divided into three stages based on severity. These stages are called Hurley stages.
- Hurley stage I is classified as a single or multiple isolated bumps without sinus tracts.
- Hurley stage II is defined as multiple bumps with some sinus tracts and scarring.
- Hurley stage III is defined as multiple bumps with lots of sinus tracts and scars involving an entire area of the body.
How is hidradenitis suppurativa disability treated?
It is important to see a doctor for hidradenitis suppurativa when your condition is painful, makes it difficult for you to move, does not improve, and frequently flares up. Your doctor will first try to treat the condition with antibiotics applied to the skin if the condition is mild. If the condition is more widespread, you may take oral antibiotics.
Steroid injections such as Kenalog may also be used to assist with reducing the amount of swelling and inflammation which may be occurring due to the sores. Oral retinoids can be used if the disease is acne like in nature.
For severe cases, biological drugs may be used to change the immune system in order to disrupt the disease process and improve symptoms of the disease. Biological drugs are typically administered by injection. Some of these biological drugs include Humira and Remicade, which are tumor necrosis factor inhibitors.
Additionally, if the disease is painful enough that over the counter pain relievers are not sufficient, you may be referred to a pain clinic or be prescribed stronger medication.
Can I get Social Security Disability benefits?
If you are suffering from severe hidradenitis suppurativa and it is interfering with your ability to perform full time work activity, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability.
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available for people who have worked and paid taxes on their income for at least five of the past ten years.
When evaluating your case, Social Security will first confirm that you are no longer engaging in substantial gainful activity (which means that you are earning less than $1400 per month gross from working activity).
Then, Social Security will evaluate the severity of your impairment. They will review the medical records that you have on file, including doctor visit notes, exam findings, diagnostic testing, and treatment history.
Then, Social Security will evaluate your residual functional capacity. This is your ability to perform certain work related activities like standing, walking, lifting, reaching your arms, bending, and stooping. This can also include any mental limits such as attention and concentration.
Social Security will then determine whether you are able to return to your past work in light of your limitations. If not, Social Security will determine whether there are other jobs that you can perform in light of your limitations. If you are not able to perform any jobs, you will be found disabled.
LaBovick Law Group is here to help!
If you are suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa and are no longer able to continue working, our legal team is ready to help you apply for the benefits that you need.
Having an attorney will help ensure your case is properly developed and provide representation should you appear at a hearing with an administrative law judge.
Give us a call at (561) 625-8400 to get your application started today.