Hidradenitis Suppurativa



HS happens when hair follicles become blocked. Hair follicles are openings on the surface of the skin where hair grows. The cause of HS is not known. Genes, the environment, and immune system problems may 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
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High cholesterol
  • Frequent rubbing against the skin or tight clothes
  • Certain medicines, such as lithium



HS often starts when a person is in their 20s. Symptoms 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 symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis of HS.



The goal of care is to control outbreaks of HS symptoms. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Options are:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as:
  • Reaching and keeping a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Good skin care
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Antibiotics applied to the skin—to reduce pus-filled lumps and treat infection
    • Corticosteroid pills—to ease swelling and inflammation
    • Biologics injections—to change the immune system and improve symptoms
    • Retinoids by mouth—for people with an acne-like form of HS
    • Hormone pills—may help mild HS
    • Pain medicines

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.