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Is Wet Earwax Associated With HS?

A recent study, conducted in Japan, found an association between wet ear wax and hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) among Japanese patients.

“In Western nations, HS typically affects the apocrine gland-bearing skin of people of African origin, women, smokers, and individuals with obesity,” the researchers said. “The clinical characteristics of HS in Korea and Japan, however, are reportedly different from those in the West.” They hypothesized that wet earwax was associated with HS among East Asian individuals due to this population being genetically predisposed to produce dry earwax.

In the study, the researchers reviewed the charts of 53 Japanese patients with HS.
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Most patients in the study were men (72%) and the most commonly affected site was the buttocks, the researchers said, while the apocrine gland-bearing areas, such as the axilla, were affected less often.

The researchers found 51% of patients with HS had wet earwax, which was substantially higher than the general Japanese population. When gluteal HS was excluded, they found the proportion of patients with wet earwax increased (68%).

“Although the etiology of HS is unknown, our survey indicated that HS in apocrine gland-bearing skin, such as the axillary and anogenital areas, may be associated with wet earwax,” the researchers concluded. “As this study was conducted in a limited clinical setting, a nationwide, multicenter survey is warranted to clarify the clinical characteristics of HS in Japan.”


Shibuya Y, Morioka D, Nomura M, Zhang Z, Utsunomiya H. Earwax of patients with hidradenitis suppurativa: A retrospective study. Arch Plast Surg. 2019;46(6):566-571. doi:10.5999/aps.2019.00290



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