Having Hidradenitis Suppurativa Does Not Make Me 'Dirty'

I would like to begin by saying that as I type this my armpits are itching and burning so bad I’m ready to scream. Today is a flare-up day and if cutting your armpits off was an option, I think I would do it.


I am completely and totally aware that my armpits are super gross. I like to think I understand that better than anyone. Yes, I know there are big, red, swollen boils. I know there are open wounds and literally holes in my armpit. I know it oozes. I know it smells sometimes. I know and truthfully, I’d never wish the burden of knowing upon you.

I’m not dirty. Let’s be real: I probably wash my underarms more often than you. I use acne soap and mild soap and cleansing wipes and whatever I need to in an effort to keep it clean and pain-free. That doesn’t always work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insensitive to the burden of having to look at it. I have to look at it every day. I try to keep it hidden because I know people don’t want to see the red, swollen, oozing mess that lives underneath my arms. And I guess I’m sorry but this is my life.

Do you realize I won’t let my fiancé see my underarms? Do you realize I rarely wear tank tops out of the house for fear of judgment by people like you?

Do you realize my fiancé has to tell me at least 10 times a day to stop messing with it because it itches so bad and I can’t stand it? Do you realize that sometimes I will literally smack myself in the armpit just to get some relief?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin disease. My body is literally attacking itself from the inside out. I hope and pray you will learn to be more compassionate and understanding towards those with health problems you may not understand. But I will never wish this disease upon you.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via TolikoffPhotography.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Hidradenitis Suppurativa

A woman writing on a typewriter with her phone and coffee by her side.

A Letter to the Person Diagnosed With Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Welcome to a club I wish you didn’t have to be a part of. You’re probably both so relieved that you finally have a diagnosis, but also terrified as to what the future might hold. Your doctor might have just handed you a pamphlet about the disease with little to no additional information. I want [...]
illustration of woman with flowers in her hair and holding a butterfly on her finger

Learning to Love and Care for Myself With Hidradenitis Suppurativa

I am a warrior, yet I am a slave. A slave to my body, a warrior of an almost invisible illness. My illness is not me, it’s not my identity, but it affects me so severely in daily life that it actually changes the ways in which I choose to live (or how I feel [...]

Dating Someone With Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Going on a first date with someone is hard, let alone someone with a rare disease like hidradenitis suppurativa. Many people don’t know what it’s like to be with someone with a rare disease, but I’m here to tell you what it’s like to date someone with HS, even though I’ve never personally gone on [...]
drawing of a woman's face partially covered by her hair and wearing sunglasses

A Day in My Life During a Hidradenitis Suppurativa Flare-Up

I hate going to sleep at night, especially when I’ve had one of my “good” days. These are the days when I can make it to drinks with friends and even make it to the gym. The days when I can go to spin class and not leave in excruciating pain. You might even see [...]