A diagnosis that took decades
When someone lives with a mysterious illness for years, finally getting a correct diagnosis can be life changing. It sparks hope and can generate a new ambition to share information with others who face the same challenge.
That’s exactly what happened to Tia Ivy, a home health care aid based in northeast Ohio.
Ivy first started to notice skin issues in her teen years. “I thought it was maybe acne,” Ivy says. “I wasn’t sure.”
The bumps eventually disappeared. But in her mid-20s, they returned. Ivy tried different acne products. One doctor even thought she had a staph infection and told her to use antibacterial soap. Nothing helped.
A twist in the road leads to the right answers
When Ivy was 36, she switched health insurance providers and saw a new primary care physician (PCP). This doctor immediately recognized her skin condition: hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).
This chronic condition affects only 1 percent of the population and is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system that contributes to inflammation below the skin. Doctors often mistake it for acne or a skin infection, just like what happened with Tia.
“It was overwhelming to find out what it really was,” Ivy says. “I was thinking, ‘What?’ All along, I’ve had this disease that I couldn’t pronounce and had never heard of it before. But the doctor was really compassionate, and she said, ‘You need to follow up with your dermatologist.’”