A woman from California was cruelly dubbed ‘Freddy Krueger’ by bullies because of an agonizing skin condition that caused her face to erupt in boils.
Kira Archuleta, now 24, from Manteca, suffers from Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), a condition similar to acne that triggers painful lesions across the body.
After appearing on her armpit, the boils quickly spread to her face, groin and even underneath her breasts. When they burst, they leave behind painful wounds that take weeks to heal.
It was so painful that she was bedridden for ten months and had to be homeschooled. Doctors initially told her she just needed to ‘clean better’, but after three years diagnosed her with HS and admitted her to hospital.
Kira Archuleta, now 24, from Manteca, said that the condition began when she was 14 years old. She is pictured above showing scarring on her face, armpits and underneath her breasts caused by the condition
Ms Archuleta now feels more confident about her future, but says the disease can still flare-up. She has been put on medication and manages the condition through diet changes — cutting out red meat, dairy and pork — has lukewarm showers daily, and rubs her skin with witch hazel and moisturizer. It comes after another sufferer, 25, from Dorset in the UK, revealed the open wounds felt like she was being burned with a hot iron.
HS is a painful condition where small, boil-like lumps form under the skin. These normally appear in places where it rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts.
It is caused by hair follicles becoming blocked, leading the immune system to trigger inflammation in the affected area — and causing boils to appear.
These can break open, causing wounds that can take weeks to heal. In some cases, tunnels can also form between boils.
Patients are at risk of the wounds becoming infected and swelling in the arms, legs and genitals. Those left untreated are also at higher risk of skin cancer.
It is not clear what causes the hair follicles to become blocked, but it is thought to be linked to genetics or hormones. Studies have also found that obese people and smokers are more at risk of the disease.
HS was once thought to be rare, but estimates now suggest that up to four in 100 Americans suffer from the condition — equivalent to 13million people.
Doctors now believe more people have the condition because they include milder cases in estimates, where isolated boils appear on the skin but no tunnels form.
In a tearful video posted on TikTok this month, Ms Archuleta showed viewers the scars across her body caused by the condition.
She showed the scars on her face, under her armpit, and lifted her top to reveal those around her breasts.
Bursting into tears while filming, she wrote: ‘I’ve felt disgusting for years. I just want to be normal!
‘I am not looking for sympathy or for people to feel sorry for me but I could not hold back my tears.’
She added: ‘HS is not contagious! But despite this fact, people are still so quick to judge.’
Ms Archuleta first started suffering from the condition when was 14 years old and boils began to appear in her armpit.
The boils quickly began to spread, however, reaching her thighs, groin and onto her face.
She said: ‘My boils were absolutely everywhere — on my groin, my thighs, my underarm.
‘I could just be sitting down, and I’d feel one of the blisters pop and that would be it — pain radiating through my entire body.’
When the boils burst, they created painful wounds.
She added: ‘I didn’t just have wounds, spots or lesions — these were actual holes on my body.
‘You could fit a whole hand in some of them. The pain became so excruciating, I ended up bedridden for 10 months.’
She is pictured above speaking about the condition on her TikTok channel
It took doctors three years to diagnose her condition, who initially sent her away saying she just needed to ‘clean better’.
Ms Archuleta said she ended up bedridden at home for ten months being cared for by her mother Tina, 48.
But, eventually, they decided to take her to hospital. Here medics gave her antibiotics and fentanyl through an IV to ease the pain.
They cleaned her wounds and she was discharged after ten days.
To manage her condition, she was put on a course of doxycycline for the flare-ups and is in the process of starting Humira — a medication typically used for arthritis — to ease her pain.
She also adopted a new skincare routine — which includes lukewarm showers once a day, witch hazel and moisturizer.
And has cut red meat, pork and dairy from her diet after finding that these may lead to flare-ups in the condition.
Describing her condition, she said: ‘I was afraid to show my face for so long because society told me it was ugly.
‘People like me feel cast out and forced to hide.
‘It was three long years of worsening pain until I finally got a diagnosis.’
Bullies have likened her condition to Freddy Krueger, the malevolent spirit of a child killer
She added: ‘I used to play softball at school, and I had to give it up. I went from being this strong, outgoing, sporty, bubbly person – to a shell of my former self.
‘Even as an adult, people still call me horrible names like Freddy Kruger.’
Ms Archuleta has no known genetic issues that could put her more at risk of the condition. But she does have a family history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
She said: ‘This is more than just a condition — or even a disability. Hidradenitis Superativa is a plague.
‘But above all, this condition has taught me to be grateful. I do feel more beautiful because I know that I am not alone. There is finally a crowd I can fit into.
‘I’m still here – and now, through TikTok – I have a platform to spread awareness of HS.’
She added: ‘I had my independence snatched away from me,’ she said.
‘It was so hard.
‘Being bedridden isn’t any kind of life – my mum bathed me, changed my dressings every morning and made me food.
‘She did things no mother should be doing for a daughter in her early 20s.’
‘It got to the point where I just couldn’t live like this anymore,’ she said.
‘My mum was in agony watching me go through the pain.
‘I didn’t want to live. But after 10 months, she decided to admit me into the hospital.’
She was taken to the UC Davis Medical Centre in Sacramento, California, US, and kept in for seven nights.
What is hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)?
HS is a painful condition where small, boil-like lumps form under the skin normally in palces where it rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts.
The nodules can become inflamed and rupture, causing wounds to open in the skin which can take weeks to heal. They can also form tunnels between them.
In more severe cases, patients can suffer from infections and swelling of the arms, legs and genitals. Patients left untreated are also at higher risk of skin cancer.
The disease is caused by hair follicles becoming blocked, which is thought to be linked to genetics or hormones. Studies have also found that obese people and smokers are more at risk of the disease.
HS was once thought to be a rare disease, but estimates now suggest that up to four in 100 Americans suffer the condition — equivalent to 13million people.
The rise in prevalence is because medics started to recognize more mild cases, where isolated boils appear on the skin but no tunnel forms between them.