An important part of managing hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is empowering yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Below is a list of commonly asked questions about the disease.
No, HS is not contagious. Though it affects the skin, HS is a chronic inflammatory disorder, which means the condition is brought on by irregularities in the body’s own immune system.1,2,3,4
Although there is no cure for HS, not all cases are progressive (meaning that the condition may not increase in severity over time). However, given the recurring nature of the condition, proper management is critical.5,6,7,8
HS can take on a variety of forms, which can be different from person to person. Likewise, the number of HS flare-ups can vary. Some of the most mild cases of HS can resemble small bumps or blackheads, while patients with more severe forms can have recurrent painful abscesses.1,3,4
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HS. Medical research has established that HS is found more often in smokers and that smoking appears trigger HS or make it worse. However, there is some evidence that HS does improve on stopping smoking.5,7,9,10
Yes, research suggests there is a 50% increase in the risk of cancer in patients living with HS, as compared with the general population. Specific cancers reported include cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, buccal cancer and hepatocellular cancer. However, this study did not adjust for cigarette smoking.1
It’s unconfirmed if HS is the cause or effect of obesity. Research shows that HS is associated with being overweight and the severity of the disease increases with the degree of obesity.1,4
If overweight, losing weight may help improve overall health – discuss options with your health care provider.
Research has found that there is a genetic predisposition to the hidradenitis suppurativa. In fact, one third of patients have a family history of the condition.1
Each person living with HS will have a different experience with the condition and as a result, will be able to participate in different kinds of physical activities. Patients should consult with their dermatologist if they have any concerns about the kind of activities in which they can take part.
No, there is no widely accepted diagnostic blood test for HS.
Application of local antiseptics may reduce the smell of lesions caused by HS. Discuss your options with a dermatologist.
Clothing specifically may not help with the management of HS; however, patients should consult with their dermatologist about what works best for them based on the site and severity of their condition. Typically, cotton and loose-fitting clothes are preferable to synthetic, wool or slim garments.