The problem that the starter of this discussion described is not that uncommon. Certain areas of the body, such as armpits, groin, the anal area, or inner thighs, have skin folds that rub against each other. These areas also have plenty of hair follicles, as well as sweat and oil glands in the skin. Sometimes, pimple-like bumps may develop in these areas, due to the friction of the skin or blockage of follicles or glands. These bumps may appear small and red, while sometimes they may develop into larger boils filled with pus.
The member who replied first suggested the discussion starter to visit his/her doctor.
It could be some kind of an infection and you may need antibiotics for the bumps to go away.
According to this reply, postponing the appointment with the doctor could only make things worse.
It happened to my friend once and she needed a surgeon to fix things.
For the participant who replied next, the cause wasn't an infection, since antibiotics and the creams he/she tried didn't help. The cause was blocked sweat glands as it has been diagnosed by the doctor. He recommended not using the products that block the sweat glands, such as antiperspirant deodorants, and to use natural deodorants or ointments made of honey, which helped this participant in the discussion heal the boils as well as old scars.
Folliculitis has been mentioned as a possible cause by many participants in the discussion. It is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed, usually due to a bacterial or fungal infection.
While the infection of hair follicles and blocked sweat glands are the most likely causes for them, the pimples or boils in the armpit are also characteristic of hidradenitis suppurativa, a chronic skin condition that affects the hair follicles and sweat glands in the affected areas.
I believe that you may have a condition called Hidradenitis Supprativa. It is a condition of re-occurring boils/ cysts/abscesses , that are often misdiagnosed as ingrown hairs, herpes, being unclean and folliculitis.
One participant explained in detail her experience with this condition that started as a pimple under her armpit. After she tried to pop it, the bump got bright red and swelled to the size of a grape and it was very painful. She kept getting the boils and all of them left scars. Then she developed the boils in her groin area (inner thighs and crotch), across the stomach (waistband friction), and between buttocks. Each boil would last for about a month and it never developed a head like a pimple.
They just swelled, made the skin red and shiny, and hurt like hell.
She visited her doctor who told her that it was folliculitis and prescribed several types of antibiotics, but neither of them worked. She was tested for a sexually transmitted disease (negatively) and after years of wandering for a correct diagnose, she went to a dermatologist who diagnosed her with hidradenitis suppurativa and prescribed the proper treatment and diet changes that helped.
What do experts say?
Painful bumps and boils often occur in the folds of the skin or areas where skin rubs together, or in areas where there's a combination of hair, sweat, and friction, such as the armpits, groin, inner thighs, under the breasts and between the buttocks.
The two most common causes are inflamed/infected hair follicle, a condition known as folliculitis, or more likely an inflamed/infected hair follicle around sweat glands, a condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa.
Folliculitis is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed, usually due to a bacterial or fungal infection. Folliculitis usually presents as small red bumps or white-headed pimples around hair follicles, which are the tiny pockets from which the hair grows. Older lesions that have lost the pus appear as red bumps surrounding the follicle. The infection can spread and turn into non-healing, crusty sores.
Folliculitis affects areas where hair follicles are present on the body, such as the face, scalp, chest, back, buttocks, groin, thighs, and armpits.
In most cases, folliculitis is caused by an infection with Staphylococcus or "staph" bacteria, which lives on the skin and normally doesn’t cause any issues, unless it gets inside the body through a wound, such as shaving cut.
Other things can also cause folliculitis, including:
- Hair removal, such as shaving, waxing, and plucking
- Ingrown hairs
- Blockages from skin products, such as moisturizers with oils
- A fungus
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
Anyone with a hair can develop folliculitis, however, certain groups of people are more prone to develop this condition, including people with diabetes and those with a compromised immune system (such as from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, chronic diseases, cancer and chemotherapy, immune-suppressing drugs, etc.).
Mild folliculitis might go away without any treatment, or with minimum interventions such as washing the area with antibacterial soap or using saltwater or vinegar on a cloth. If these self-care treatments don’t work, your doctor may recommend antibiotic or antifungal cream, or steroid cream to help reduce swelling.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a painful, long-term skin condition that causes small lumps under the skin, as well as abscesses and scarring on the skin. The lumps typically develop near hair follicles where there are sweat glands, and where the skin rubs together, including:
- in the armpits
- around the groin and genitals
- on the buttocks and around the anus
- below the breasts
Hidradenitis suppurativa tends to start with a firm pea-sized lesion that develops in one place. This lump either disappears or ruptures, oozing pus after a few hours or days. New lumps will often develop in an area nearby. If these aren't treated, larger lumps may develop and spread, often causing narrow channels called sinus tracts to form under the skin. These channels can break out on the surface and leak pus.
Many people with hidradenitis suppurativa also develop a pilonidal sinus - a small hole or "tunnel" in the skin.
Some of the lumps may become infected with bacteria, causing a secondary infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics.
Hidradenitis suppurativa usually starts between puberty and age 40. The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is not known, but smoking and obesity are both strongly associated with this condition. Other factors that may play a role include:
- an irregular immune system response
- excess weight
Hidradenitis suppurativa also affects women more than men, and most commonly occurs in women between the ages of 20 and 29.
Persistent and severe hidradenitis suppurativa often causes complications, which may include infection, scars, swelling due to obstructed lymph drainage, social isolation due to drainage and odor, and even squamous cell carcinoma in the affected skin.
To avoid these, it is important to diagnose hidradenitis suppurativa its early stages and prevent it from getting worse. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa.
Treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa
Since it's a recurring condition it requires constant management and treatment that will be tailored to the individual. Treatment options may include:
- retinoids (drugs derived from vitamin A)
- oral steroids
- drugs that suppress the immune system
- hormone therapy
People diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa are advised to lose excess weight, stop smoking, wear loose-fitting clothes, avoid shaving of the affected areas, etc.
Also, one of the greatest challenges of living with hidradenitis suppurativa may be coping with pain and embarrassment. It is important to find support among your family and friends.
What symptoms have been reported?
- And trust me I know they hurt I have like 10 on my left armpit and 7 on my left.
- Sometimes they would grow as large as a grape under the skin, more like a swollen lymph node but very painful.
- Hi All, I too get these kind of boils,but i smash little garlic clove and apply on it.without hurting the boil and it works
- The older I get (56) the more fast and furious they become.
- IT STARTED LIKE A SWOLEN NODE.
What diagnosis has been made?
- And the doctor finally found out what it is I have MRSA in my bloodstream and that is what is causing the numerous cysts and pimple like spots.
- My doctor diagnosed them as clogged sweat glands.
- Today I met with a new dermatologist and she said they were caused by a condition Hidradenitis Supprativa which is almost impossible to cure and often occurs with persistent acne (as I've had since 12 and am now 41).
- All the infections were being caused by the same bacteria - Staphylococcus aureus.
- I went to the doctor and they said it was folliculitis, which is a general term for "infection of the hair follicle.
What treatments have been recommended?
- They have gave me antibiotics called bactrim and kefelexen but they always come back bc it is in my bloodstream.
- I didnt know what they were so I told my mom that theres pimple-like things undder my armpits but she told me to put some polysporin on .
- She gave me clindalotion to use on actual spots and said when I get a painful swollen one, to call her immediately.
- Her office injects a steroid into them which brings the swelling down almost immediately so I won't have to suffer for weeks at a time again.
- When one of the mystery bumps appeared I washed it and put some Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it.