Hidradenitis suppurativa

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2009 Sep;23(9):985-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2009.03356.x.


Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent, painful, deep-seated, rounded nodules and abscesses of apocrine gland-bearing skin. Subsequent suppuration, sinus tracts and hypertrophic scarring are its main features. Onset is usually after puberty, although it is most common during the third decade and may persist in old age. The disease tends to be chronic and may develop to subcutaneous extension leading to indurations, sinus, and fistula having a profound impact on the quality of life. The prevalence is 1% in several studies. Axillary and inguinal involvement is more common in females; peri-anal and buttocks localizations are prevalent in males. The exact aetiology remains unknown. The primary event is a follicular occlusion with secondary inflammation, infection and destruction of the pilo-sebaceo-apocrine apparatus and extension to the adjacent sub-cutaneous tissue. Infection is common. Smoking may be a triggering factor. Obesity aggravates the discomfort. Differential diagnostic includes Crohn's disease, nodular acne and furonculosis. The main complications are arthropathy, carcinoma. Treatment depends upon the stage of the disease. Early nodular lesions may be treated by antibiotics for acute stage; long-term antibiotics, zinc salts may be useful as maintenance treatment; anti-TNF drugs have been used in severe cases; systemic steroids, estrogens, anti-androgens, retinoids have been used as options with limited success. Surgical treatment includes incision with or without drainage for limited abscesses; limited excisions are used for locally recurring draining sinuses. Total wide excision and healing with secondary intention or flaps and grafts is the only curative procedure in case of advanced disease.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / diagnosis
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / pathology*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Radiotherapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / pathology
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Steroids
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha