Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic skin condition that causes painful lumps deep in your skin-recurrent nodules, cysts and abscesses in the body folds especially the armpits, inner thighs, and groin area. Many people have never heard of hidradenitis suppurativa. During their first appointment with a dermatologist, patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) often say they have pimples, sores, or lumps on their armpits or groin.

The condition typically starts after puberty and can persist for years, causing significant discomfort and impacting quality of life. The exact cause of HS is not known, but it is believed to be related to blockages and inflammation of the hair follicles and sweat glands in the affected areas.

Also called acne inversa, HS can look like pimples and acne cysts. It’s not acne, though. Abscesses, which are pockets of pus, can develop. When an abscess breaks opens, blood and pus leak out. As the abscess heals, a scar usually develops.

You may develop more abscesses in the same area. If the abscesses and scars continue to appear, tunnels can form under the skin. These pus-filled tunnels are called sinus tracts.

Getting medical treatment from a dermatologist before HS worsens can reduce flare-ups and prevent HS from becoming a painful disease that might cause disability.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is:

  • NOT a sexually transmitted disease
  • NOT caused by unclean skin
  • NOT contagious
  • NOT acne


Studies have shown that HS is 3 times more common in women than men, and also it is more often found in people with darker skin than other races. Some people with HS have a higher risk of developing a common type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

HS cannot be cured, but treatment can control the disease. Treatment can prevent new HS and treat existing HS. This means that HS does not have to stop you from living the life you want to live.

Risk factors for developing HS include obesity, smoking, hormonal imbalances, and a family history of the condition.

Treatment for HS often involves a combination of approaches, including antibiotics, topical or oral medications to reduce inflammation and pain, and surgery in severe cases. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and quitting smoking, can also help manage the symptoms of HS.

Here are some of the most common treatments for HS:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat infections and reduce inflammation in the affected areas. They may be taken orally or applied topically to the skin.

Anti-inflammatory medications: Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or immunosuppressants may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain associated with HS.

Biologics: Biologic medications, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors, may be used to treat moderate to severe HS. They work by blocking specific proteins in the immune system that contribute to inflammation.

Surgery: In severe cases of HS, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected tissue or drain abscesses. Procedures such as laser therapy or cryotherapy may also be used to remove lesions and improve the appearance of the affected skin.

Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding tight-fitting clothing, may help reduce the frequency and severity of HS flare-ups.

It’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs and preferences. HS can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right treatment and support, it is possible to improve symptoms and quality of life.

Minimal Downtime

You can return to your daily routine immediately after

Immediate Results

Results within 24 to 48 hours, with full results in 30 days

Painless Procedure

Brief period of discomfort during the injection, similar to a pinch

Results That Last

Effects typically last for several months

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects the apocrine sweat glands, typically in the armpits, groin, and buttocks. It is characterized by recurrent painful nodules, abscesses, and draining sinuses in these areas.
The exact cause of HS is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, and immune system dysfunction. Other contributing factors may include smoking, obesity, and a history of acne.
Treatment for HS focuses on managing symptoms, preventing flare-ups, and promoting healing. The treatment options may include topical or oral antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, immunosuppressive drugs, and biologic therapies. Surgical intervention may be considered in severe cases.
Yes, certain lifestyle changes can help manage HS. Maintaining good hygiene, wearing loose-fitting clothing, avoiding tight or irritating fabrics, quitting smoking, and managing stress levels can all contribute to reducing the frequency and severity of flare-ups.
At present, there is no known cure for HS. However, with proper management and treatment, the symptoms can be controlled, and the condition can be effectively managed. Early diagnosis and a multidisciplinary approach involving dermatologists, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals can help improve outcomes and quality of life for individuals with HS.
Hidradenitis suppurativa

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.