BACKGROUND: Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease of the intertriginous areas. HS affects hair follicles causing perifollicular inflammation, resulting in the formation of nodules and painful abscesses. Intense pulsed light (IPL) uses selective photothermolysis to destroy the hair follicles.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effect of IPL hair removal as treatment for mild-to-moderate HS.
MATERIALS & METHODS: We conducted a single-blinded, clinical randomized trial with patients with Hurley Stage I-II. Patients with symmetrical disease were randomized to monthly unilateral treatment of the axilla or groin. The contralateral side served as internal control. Concomitant treatment modalities for HS were not permitted throughout the study. Efficacy was assessed using Hidradenitis Suppurativa Clinical Response (HiSCR), modified Sartorius score (MSS) and patient-reported outcomes.
RESULTS: A total of 17 patients completed the trial and were included in the analysis. HiSCR was not evaluated in patients without abscesses or inflammatory nodules pre-treatment. HiSCR was insignificantly different between the intervention side (8/12) and control side (4/10), P=0.467. There was, however, a significant reduction in regional MSS on the intervention side with a median score decreasing from 8.5 (IQR: 6.3-13.5) to 4.5 (IQR 1.8-8.0) post-treatment, P=0.006, and an insignificant score reduction in the control side from 6.0 (IQR: 4.5-8.3) to 5.0 (IQR: 2.5-9.0), post-treatment P=0.492.
CONCLUSION: IPL hair removal resulted in a significant reduction on MSS on the treated area with no significant reduction on the control side. Our study suggests that IPL may be an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate HS.