More Than Just A Pimple: Is It Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Do pimples give you hard time and make you feel imperfect? If you thought acne was the worst thing you could suffer from, think again. Hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as acne inversa, is a medical condition that takes acne to the next level. Filled with pus and also painful, these lesions can be quite embarrassing and difficult to deal with.

Do you suspect that you have this condition? Here are a few things you should know about the disease to recognize it on time and manage it.


What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

 Hidradenitis suppurativa causes pimple-like lesions filled with pus

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a rare medical condition in which the hair follicles become clogged and grow inward to create painful lesions. Over time, these lesions grow under the skin, become inflamed, and release a foul-smelling pus when they rupture. These are the type of acne that could affect your quality of life quite significantly.1


Early Symptoms Of Hidradenitis Suppurative

In the early stages, hidradenitis suppurativa looks a lot like a bad breakout of pimples

In the early stages, hidradenitis suppurativa looks a lot like a bad breakout of pimples or boils. They mostly appear in places you don’t often see, such as the armpits, groin area, and under the breasts. Since the skin folds in these areas usually rub against each other, they are a major causative factor of this condition. If you notice an acne-like breakout in such areas, check for the likelihood of hidradenitis suppurativa.2


Who Is At A Greater Risk?

Women are three times more at risk for hidradenitis suppurative than men

Further research is needed to understand what exactly what increases the risk of hidradenitis suppurativa. However, it has been observed that women are three times more at risk than men. Some of the common risk factors are:

  • A blood relative suffering from the condition
  • Smoking
  • Obesity, since the excess fat causes more skin folds3

Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa Contagious?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is not contagious

No, this condition is not contagious and cannot be passed on from person to person. However, since not everyone is aware of this, many often face emotional trauma from ostracism. People might even feel embarrassed and helpless due to the smell and appearance.4


While it’s easy to say that these are just pimples that will go away sooner or later, dealing with it is easier said than done. So, if you are experiencing feelings of grief and depression due to the condition, seek professional help. Counselling can go a long way in improving your feelings, confidence, and thus, your quality of life.

Complications Of Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa could cause scars, infections, and even cancer


When left untreated, hidradenitis suppurativa can lead to a host of secondary problems.

  • Your skin will continue to break out and heal, leading to scarring.
  • Lesions that develop over time can form tunnel-like structures under your skin, which then become inflamed and painful.
  • Sometimes, the skin tissue heals in lumpy scars, which can further aggravate the condition by rubbing against healthy skin vigorously.
  • Skin infections and rare cases of skin cancer might develop along the scar tissue lines.5

How To Treat Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa can be managed with steroid creams or surgery


Let’s address the elephant in the room here. Knowing about the symptoms and causes help, but not without treatment. Hidradenitis suppurativa has no permanent cure or preventive measure. It can only be treated whenever it appears.

Treatment does not guarantee that you won’t have breakouts in other parts of your body. It simply allows you to have a better quality of life. The treatment options range from steroid creams to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.6 In extreme cases, doctors may surgically drain the inflamed area or choose to excise all the affected skin and do a skin graft. Some doctors recommend a new therapy called tumor necrosis alpha inhibitor therapy for long-term results, but this treatment needs to be closely supervised by a medical team.7

Home Remedies For Hidradenitis Suppurativa

There are no proven home remedies for hidradenitis suppurativa

Some sources recommend using tea tree oil, bath salts, vinegar, or honey to treat hidradenitis suppurativa. However, more research is required into the potential side effects of such remedies. If your condition is inflamed and too painful, approach a doctor at the earliest and do not use any home remedies.

Applying hot compresses might help alleviate the pain caused by the inflammation. A good idea would be to make dietary modifications to lose weight and quit tobacco use to prevent further breakouts.