Debilitating skin conditions high in Australia
The first prevalence study of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) in Australia estimates a large number of adults are currently undiagnosed with the debilitating skin condition.
HS is a chronic skin condition characterised by inflamed areas and boils typically located in the inverse body areas, most commonly the axillae, groin, buttocks and inframammary areas.
HS can occur at any age, but the condition commonly develops in young adults. Also known as acne inversa, HS can take on a variety of forms that differ from person to person, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.
Based on a large representative sample of the Australian adult population (N = 11,433) using a previously validated HS screening questionnaire, the peer-reviewed, PLOS ONE published study estimates the prevalence of HS to be 0.67 per cent, or approximately 165,000 Australians.
Dr Miriam Calao, study author and Medical Manager at AbbVie Australia, said the extensive study was an Australian first and estimates the prevalence and diagnosis rates of HS.
Dr Calao said: “HS is a debilitating condition that can leave people in persistent pain. It can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life by interfering with work, social and leisure activities. By estimating prevalence, diagnosis rates, demographics and management pathways in Australia, this study will hopefully support the medical community in tackling HS and the associated negative effects of the condition.
“Among those surveyed, 88 individuals were identified as potentially having HS, but only six (6.8 per cent) had received a medical diagnosis. Many, both diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals, had seen several clinicians or specialists regarding their condition. A quarter of undiagnosed individuals had not seen any clinician at all.
“The low diagnosis rate may be the result of a combination of factors, including decentralisation of care, lack of familiarity of some clinicians with the disease, and many patients not seeking medical help.”
Dr Diana Rubel, Dermatologist at Canberra Hospital and an author of the paper, said clinicians have a responsibility to give patients accurate and timely diagnoses.
“It’s a sad fact that HS often impacts every aspect of the patient’s life, including their education prospects, career and relationships. This study will hopefully create dialogue between healthcare professionals on how best to identify and refer patients suspected of having HS,” Dr Rubel said.
“The study highlights young women as particularly susceptible, with multiple appointments over many years needed before they receive an accurate diagnosis. It’s clear more must be done by the medical community to help these patients.”
PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science) is a peer reviewed, multidisciplinary Open Access journal. It features reports of original research from the natural sciences, medical research, engineering, as well as the related social sciences and humanities.
AbbVie Pty Ltd funded this study and participated in the design, research, analysis and interpretation of data, as well as writing, reviewing and approval. AbbVie is a global, research and development-based biopharmaceutical company.
Published: 07 Feb 2019