Hidradenitis Suppurativa



HS happens when hair follicles become blocked. It is not known why this happens.

Genes, the environment, and problems with the immune system may also play a role.

Risk Factors

HS is more common in women. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having family members who have HS
  • Smoking—present or past
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High cholesterol



The problem often starts when a person is in their 20s. Problems may be:

  • Burning, itching, or painful lumps in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, or between the buttocks
  • Pus leaking from breaks in the lumps
  • Scarring


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



The goal of care is to control outbreaks. Options are:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and wearing loose clothing
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Antibiotics
    • Corticosteroids
    • Biologic agents
    • Retinoids
    • Hormonal therapy

People with severe symptoms may need a surgery or procedure to remove the painful lumps.


There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.