Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is an autoinflammatory condition that attacks hair follicles, causing painful recurring abscesses in sweaty areas of your body. There isn’t a cure for HS, but treatment can help relieve symptoms.
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a condition that causes painful, recurring boils in areas of your body with sweat glands. There isn’t a cure, but treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent new boils and scarring.
Another name for HS is acne inversa.
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Women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are more likely to get HS compared to men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB).
Other risk factors include:
HS isn’t contagious because it has nothing to do with infection. It’s an autoinflammatory condition that affects your hair follicles.
HS is an autoinflammatory disease of the hair follicles. This means your body attacks your hair follicles, resulting in abscesses, chronic inflammation and scarring.
No, HS isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s not contagious at all.
No, HS isn’t a consequence of poor hygiene.
People with HS develop painful nodules, abscesses that drain pus and scarring over time. Women and people AFAB may experience flare-ups before their period.
Commonly affected areas include your:
Some people with HS may also develop acne conglobata, a severe type of acne.
Longstanding untreated HS increases your risk of:
**Unfortunately, many healthcare providers may mistake HS for infection-related boils. A dermatologist has special training that helps them recognize the signs of hidradenitis suppurativa.
A review of your health history and a physical exam is typically all that’s necessary.
Hidradenitis suppurativa treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. In early stages, your care may include:
A dermatologist may recommend specific skin care products. These include:
Hidradenitis suppurativa treatment also includes therapies to relieve pain:
Other medications that help people with hidradenitis suppurativa include:
If you have severe symptoms or growths that don’t respond to other therapies, you may need a procedure.
Your healthcare provider may recommend:
Some risk factors, like family history, are out of your control. But there are steps you can take to lower the risk of HS flare-ups and complications.
Prevention may include:
The outlook is good. There are several treatments currently available that can help people with hidradenitis suppurativa. Experts are also testing new potential treatments.
There’s no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s an ongoing skin condition with symptoms that may come and go for years. Treatments can manage symptoms and clear up boils. But there’s still a chance they could come back.
Recurrent draining abscesses make many people feel self-conscious. The stress of taking care of a chronic, painful condition can also impact mental health. Anxiety or depression are common in people with HS. If you’re struggling with these issues, talk to your healthcare provider.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a painful condition that causes recurrent painful draining boils and can lead to scarring. If you have painful boils that last for weeks and keep coming back in the other areas mentioned above, please see a healthcare provider. Medical therapies, procedures and counseling, when necessary, can help you get relief.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/20/2022.
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