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Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Why See a Specialist?

By

Allie Lemco Toren

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PHYSICIAN CONTRIBUTOR

How Doctors Approach Treatment for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

The goals of treatment are to clear and prevent breakouts, and get rid of scars.
Doctor sitting with a laptop

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also known acne inversa, is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all HS patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your HS successfully.

That’s where specialists come in: an HS specialist, called a dermatologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your condition. Here’s why:

1. A dermatologist completes extensive training in HS and is an expert in HS care.

A dermatologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the skin. The skin is involved in many aspects of human health, so dermatologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A dermatologist will have expertise in treating HS and other conditions related to the skin.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But dermatologists receive considerable training beyond that. Dermatologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced dermatologists and focus on patients with HS and issues affecting the skin. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become board-certified dermatologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in dermatology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A dermatologist never stops learning about HS.

To maintain their board certifications, dermatologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified dermatologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in HS, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A dermatologist has extensive experience in treating HS.

Dermatologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with HS, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see many patients with HS, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how HS progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A dermatologist is a team player.

Dermatologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with HS and can connect patients with nurse practitioners, nutritionists, psychologists, surgeons, and other experts in HS management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right dermatologist for you.

There are thousands of dermatologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best dermatologist to help you manage your HS successfully.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 9, 2017

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