Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory disease of apocrine gland-bearing skin. Although immunologic derangements, genetic predisposition, obesity, and smoking are likely important factors, the pathogenesis of the disease and the effect of available treatments on disease course have not been fully elucidated. In the absence of proper treatment, chronic inflammation results in diffuse scarring and a wide array of complications, including the development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. This severe and chronic disease can have detrimental effects on self-esteem and quality of life. No ideal treatment regimen has been defined, but several therapies have been found to reduce lesion severity and improve symptoms. We reviewed the literature through July 2014 for existing treatments. Published articles were obtained via systematic review of medical databases (PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar) and scrutiny of citation lists using the search terms "hidradenitis suppurativa" and "acne inversa". Given the scarce literature on treatment strategies, we also reviewed data from any case reports or prospective and retrospective studies that were located. On the basis of the existing literature, we provide an evidence-based algorithm for the management of this disease in the primary care setting. More research is needed to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of topical and systemic treatments and to better understand the pathogenesis, natural history, and subtypes of hidradenitis suppurativa.
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