Hidradenitis suppurativa is an absolutely terrible skin disease. The cause of the disease is unknown. It is a chronic condition, meaning that the disease lasts for a long time or recurs often instead of getting better. This disease is a pus-like inflammation of the sweat glands. The sweat glands involved are not all of the sweat glands on a person but just the “apocrine” sweat glands. Those glands are located in the armpit area, the external genitalia and perianal area (to name a few). The result of the blocked glands include: blackheads; bumps; lumps and sores. The blackheads are the least of the problems which hidradenitis suppurativa causes. The bumps can be painful and when enlarged can break open. When the lumps break open, often they leak pus with an unpleasant oder. The bumps may also be accompanied by itching, burning and sweating. The lumps generally form under the skin and may become painful. Sometime the lumps remain for years. The sores are well, sores. When active, the sores can ooze pus.
Hidradenitis suppurativa has no cure. It is treated by conservative measures such as antibiotics along with other types of medications. When all else fails, it can be treated with surgery during which the diseased tissue is removed and in its place healthy skin is grafted.
Hidradenitis suppurativa can interfere with a person’s ability to work. This occurs mainly because of restrictions in the use of arms (caused by disease occurring under arms or in the folds of the breasts) and in the inability to sit for a long period of time (caused by the disease occurring in the external genitalia and perianal areas). There is also a social isolation component of the disease caused by the appearance and oder of the bumps and sores. The Social Security Administration acknowledges that hidradenitis suppurativa can be debilitating enough to serve as the basis for an award of federal disability.
Section 8.06 of the listed impairments (20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 – Listing of Impairments), lists hidradenitis suppurativa in its category of impairments for skin disorders which may qualify for disability benefits:
8.06 Hidradenitis suppurativa, with extensive skin lesions involving both axillae, both inguinal areas or the perineum that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.
As is true with other conditions, diseases and injuries the fact of being diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa does not alone qualify a person for disability benefits. The condition must not only exist but be judged to be severe. So, in the case of hidradenitis suppurativa, the skin lesions caused by the disease must be extensive, involve the relevant areas (usually on both sides of the body) or the perineum and importantly persist for at least three months even after continuing treatment.
Of course, even if the condition is not severe enough to meet or equal Listing 8.06, it may still support an award of disability if it prevents a person from performing his/her past relevant work and the restrictions from the condition eliminates so many other jobs that there are not substantial number of jobs in several regions throughout the country that the person can perform.