What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin disease that causes pimple-like bumps or boils on and under the skin. The disease is chronic (long lasting) and can be painful. HS does not spread from one person to another.

HS starts in the hair follicle in the skin and happens where areas of skin may touch or rub together. Poor personal hygiene habits, such as not bathing or shampooing your hair, do not cause HS. In most cases, the cause of the disease is unknown.

Who gets hidradenitis suppurativa?

Women are more likely to get hidradenitis suppurativa than men, and it is more common in African Americans than whites. HS often appears around puberty.

You may be more likely to get HS if:

  • A family member has the disease.
  • You are overweight or obese.
  • You smoke.

What are the symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa?

HS tends to happen where two areas of the skin touch or rub together. The symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa are:

  • Pus-filled bumps on the skin.
  • Hard bumps under the skin.
  • Open wounds that drain and won’t heal.

The bumps usually show up in the same place on both sides of the body and can be large and painful. The most common places for the symptoms to appear are in the armpits and groin. HS can cause deep and serious scars.

Some people have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms. For instance, some people only have one affected area while others have several affected areas.

What causes hidradenitis suppurativa?

Doctors do not know the exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa. Researchers continue to study HS and think the following may lead to the disease:

  • Altered or changed genes from parents.
  • Hormones.
  • Environmental factors.

HS does not spread from person to person, and poor personal hygiene habits, such as not bathing and shampooing your hair, do not cause the disease.

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