What Is Hailey-Hailey Disease?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2019
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Hailey-Hailey disease is a rare genetic skin disorder that causes blistering of the skin. A child who is born to a parent with this condition has a 50 percent chance of developing symptoms. Some of the most common characteristics of the disease include a painful rash, blisters, and secondary infections. While there is no known cure for this disease of the skin, treatment may include steroid medications, ultraviolet light therapy, or the use of prescription antibiotics. Surgical intervention to remove lesions may become necessary in the most severe cases of Hailey-Hailey disease.

While the symptoms of Hailey-Hailey disease usually begin after adolescence, they can appear at any age. The first sign of this skin disease is usually the presence of a reddened rash which may lead to scaly patches of skin or the appearance of one or more small blisters. This rash may come and go with no particular frequency and can cause itching, pain, and a foul odor. Most commonly, the lesions associated with Hailey-Hailey disease appear in skin folds where there is a lot of friction or moisture, such as the groin, armpit, and the area just underneath the breasts.


There are typically no significant health risks connected to Hailey-Hailey disease, and it is considered to be more of a nuisance than a serious disease. Many people with this disorder feel isolated or embarrassed due to the appearance and odor associated with the lesions. No cure is available for this condition, although there are a variety of treatment options which may help in the management of specific symptoms. It may be wise to visit a dermatologist in order to receive an accurate diagnosis because Hailey-Hailey disease is often misdiagnosed as other skin conditions, such as impetigo, eczema, or jock itch. A skin biopsy may be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Cortisone creams and oral steroid medications are frequently prescribed to treat pain, itching, and inflammation associated with Hailey-Hailey disease. Ultraviolet light therapy, laser treatments, and the avoidance of triggers, such as sun exposure, may be beneficial for those who suffer from this disorder. Secondary infections which develop as a result of skin damage caused by the lesions may be treated with oral antibiotics or topical antibiotic ointments. Surgery to remove the lesions is sometimes required in extreme situations, and skin grafts are frequently needed in order to replace the damaged skin with healthy tissue.


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