Patients with hidradenitis suppurativa are significantly more susceptible to long-term opioid use than those without the skin condition, according to research recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Hidradenitis suppurativa causes small lumps to form under the skin, and its appearance can have a negative impact on the patient’s quality of life. The condition occurs more often in women than in men, and is considered to be connected to hormone and immune system problems.

Sarah Reddy from the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York and her colleagues used electronic health record data to identify 22,277 patients with hidradenitis suppurativa and 828,832 controls. Among the 22,277 patients, approximately 76 percent were women and 59 percent were white, with the average age being 40.

The researchers found that the long-term opioid use among opioid-naive patients was more than twice as common among hidradenitis suppurativa patients (0.33 percent) than among control patients (0.14 percent). Ultimately, patients with the condition were at a 53 percent greater risk of using opioids in the long-term. 

The researchers recommend that physicians will take careful consideration when prescribing pain management plans. “These results suggest that periodic assessment of pain and screening for long-term opioid use may be warranted, particularly among patients who are older, who smoke tobacco, or who have depression and other medical comorbidities,” write the researchers.



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