Hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as acne inversa, is a chronic skin condition that typically appears after puberty. The exact cause is not known, but hormones and the immune system are thought to play a role.
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) often starts with the appearance of a single painful, inflamed bump and later spreads. Anyone can have hidradenitis suppurativa, but you are more likely to develop the condition if other members of your family have it, or if you are overweight or smoke.
Breakouts of hidradenitis suppurativa tend to occur in skin folds and in areas not typically prone to pimple breakouts including the groin, underarms, buttocks, upper thighs, and on or underneath heavy breasts. Breakouts can persist for long periods of time, or they may resolve temporarily only to reappear later in the same spot or a different area of the body. Some lesions can rupture, producing foul-smelling drainage. Serious infections and scarring can also occur, particularly when hidradenitis suppurativa goes untreated.
The symptoms of acne inversa can be difficult to distinguish from those of other skin conditions such as acne, folliculitis and boils, so it’s important to see a dermatologist for accurate diagnosis.
Medical treatment options include antibiotics, acne washes, prescription acne treatments, and bleach baths. These treatments should be prescribed and monitored by a board-certified dermatologist once hidradenitis suppurativa has been diagnosed.
There is no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa, but weight loss and smoking cessation may reduce flare-ups and minimize symptoms.