By Charlotte Nisbet
A twenty three year old woman plagued by over 10,000 abscesses has shared her images for the first time.
Nicole Cruickshank, from Castle Cary, Somerset, first noticed small blackhead-like spots on her thighs and arms a decade ago.
But it wasn’t until YEAR HERE that she was diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa – a painful, long-term skin condition that causes abscesses and scarring on the skin.
She was devastated and as the years past, her spotty skin became unbearable and began to spread to her armpits.
Nicole can find a new puss-filled abscess every day and is constantly using cotton pads to prevent the lumps from bursting while she’s out and about.
But she is now sharing her story for the first time to raise awareness and to help others seek help.
Nicole said: “I first noticed something was wrong when I saw a collection of blackheads inside my thigh.
“It didn’t take long before they’d turned into puss filled spots and the pain was horrendous.
“They were leaking at school and despite numerous doctor and hospital visits, nothing helped.
“I had an abscess so large under my arm that I couldn’t put it down, it was stuck in an upright position.
“They normally burst on their own or slowly shrink but in this instance, doctors thought I needed it drained as it was so painful.
“In the end it actually ended up bursting on its own.
“To this day if I squeeze the area puss comes out, five years later.
“Even though Hidradenitis Suppurativa isn’t life threatening it can cause Sepsis if my spots become infected and that can be fatal.
“My boyfriend, Steve, 34, is so understanding of my skin condition and knows I can’t walk long distances without causing more abscesses to develop.
“Not being able to exercise has caused weight gain but after going through years of pain and suffering, I have finally found the confidence to share my pictures.
There is no cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa and the only medication given to relieve the pain is anti-biotics.
Nicole added: “I have tried every type of anti-biotic and nothing helps.
“I tend to get one new abscess every day and around four large ones every week.
“After battling the skin condition for around 10 years, I’ve had around 10,000 in my lifetime.
“I don’t tend to go to hospital with them anymore as it’s pointless as they cannot provide anymore treatment than I can offer myself at home.
“I get threw boxes of cotton pads and I’ve even had to give up my job.
“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone at work that the reason I needed long loo breaks was because I had Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
“At the age of 21, the abscesses started to appear under my breasts too which makes you feel worthless.
“At this point I had painful flares on my legs, under both arms and under my breasts.
“I’ve also had them appear on my buttocks, shoulders, bra line and behind my ear.
“I’ve tried at least 8 different types of antibiotics – none have seemed to make any difference.
“We need awareness and we desperately need a cure. I want my life back.
“It’s easy for people to look at me and think there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s easy for someone to call me ‘fat and lazy,’ it’s easy for people to say ‘I don’t think it’s as bad as she makes out,’ but my good days are a normal persons bad days.
“But now I’m aiming to help others by speaking out and to stop them from feeling alone.
“There’s not a lot of research online but there is social media pages you can join to find support.”
Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson said: “Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a painful, chronic skin condition characterised by abscesses and scarring often affecting the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts.
“It is often seen more commonly in women, smokers and those who are overweight and cause huge psychological distress to those affected.”
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