Diagnoses & Conditions

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

Understanding Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

Hidradenitis suppurativa (also called acne inversa), is a chronic skin disease involving the hair follicles and sweat glands. The hair follicles and sweat glands become blocked, trapping bacteria and leading to boil-like lumps that form under the skin. Areas where the skin rubs together are commonly affected, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks, and breasts. HS is not caused by bad hygiene, and it cannot be spread to others. In most cases, the cause of HS is unknown. Genetics, environment, and hormonal factors may play a role.

Symptoms of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

HS can be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms include:

  • Small pitted areas of skin containing blackheads.
  • Painful pea-sized lumps that get bigger, become abscessed, break open and drain fluid and pus with an unpleasant odor.
  • The abscesses heal very slowly, if at all, and can lead to scarring and tunnels under the skin.

Diagnosing Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

There is no specific test for HS, and it is often misdiagnosed in the early stages. The health care provider will review medical history, symptoms, and test the skin or pus from a lump (if any are present).

Treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

There is no cure for HS. It may help to avoid things that can irritate skin: wear loose-fitting clothing, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, avoid heat and humidity, use care to not injure skin. Treatment depends on how severe the HS is and includes medications, surgery, or both to help control symptoms and prevent complications. Medication treatment includes steroids, antibiotics, pain relievers, and medicines that flight inflammation. Medication may be applied topical to the skin, taken orally or be injected.

Medications prescribed to reduce symptoms, usually for severe HS, include infliximab (e.g., Inflectra®, Remicade®), administered into the blood stream intravenously, and immune globulin G (IgG) administered into the blood stream intravenously (IVIG).


This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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