All About HS

Understanding hs

What is HS?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a persistent and sometimes debilitating inflammatory skin condition that can get worse over time. Painful boils and abscesses usually develop in areas where skin rubs together, like armpits, the groin area, and inner thighs, but in some cases they can also affect areas like the face and back. HS lesions tend to heal slowly and come back often, leading to tunnels under the skin and scarring. 

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What causes HS?

The exact cause of HS isn’t known, but we do know it’s associated with inflammation in the body and may be caused by an overactive immune system. There’s no cure yet—but there are treatments that can help!

Who is
Affected by HS?

Once considered a rare disease, HS actually affects about 1% of the population. But it is often underrecognized, misdiagnosed, and undertreated. Some are more affected by HS than others: 

Women with HS outnumber men by nearly 3 to 1 and, on average, experience symptoms earlier in life.

HS can run in families—more than 30% of those with HS have a family member who also has it.

HS typically develops during adolescence or in young adults in their early 20s.

HS happens more often among African Americans in the United States, but it can affect anyone.

Extra weight or smoking do not cause HS but may worsen symptoms.

HS is associated with other conditions like severe acne, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Beyond skin deep
—the toll of HS

The pain of HS can go beyond just the physical. People often feel embarrassment, frustration, and shame around flares—and the chronic pain and self-consciousness HS brings can often impact people’s lives significantly.

Please remember that you are not alone in dealing with HS. Talk with friends or a therapist, or find an HS support group where you can share your experience and feelings in a safe space.

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A dermatologist can help

HS can be tricky to diagnose and some people struggle for years to find the care they need—but a dermatologist who is experienced in HS can help! If you’ve never been diagnosed, or if you have and it’s been a while since your last visit, make an appointment today.


Myths + Facts

There are many myths about HS. Separate fact from fiction below by clicking a card to reveal the truth about HS! 

Myth: HS is contagious.

FACT: HS is  NOT contagious.

HS can’t be spread from person to person, even with skin-to-skin contact, or by touching surfaces that they’ve touched.

Myth: HS is a sexually transmitted infection.

FACT: HS is  NOT  an STI. 

Some think that HS is a sexually transmitted infection since it can develop in the groin area. HS cannot be “caught,” no matter how close and personal you get with someone with the condition. 

Myth: You can’t treat HS.

FACT: There is a wide variety of HS treatment options available.

One of the biggest misunderstandings about HS is that not much can be done about it. The understanding of HS is improving every day—find the right dermatologist experienced with HS and don’t give up!

Myth: HS has a type.

FACT: Anyone can get HS.

There’s no one type of person that gets HS. While certain factors may be associated with higher risks, truth is, HS can affect anyone.

Myth: HS is caused by poor hygiene.

FACT: HS is caused by an overactive immune system—and has nothing to do with hygiene.

HS isn’t caused by poor hygiene. Excessive sweating can irritate existing abscesses, but flares can happen no matter how clean you are.