The Role of Androgens and Estrogens in Hidradenitis Suppurativa - A Systematic Review

Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2016 Dec;24(4):239-249.


Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is an inflammatory skin disease. Several observations imply that sex hormones may play a role in its pathogenesis. HS is more common in women, and the disease severity appears to vary in intensity according to the menstrual cycle. In addition, parallels have been drawn between HS and acne vulgaris, suggesting that sex hormones may play a role in the condition. The role of androgens and estrogens in HS has therefore been explored in numerous observational and some interventional studies; however, the studies have often reported conflicting results. This systematic review includes 59 unique articles and aims to give an overview of the available research. Articles containing information on natural variation, severity changes during menstruation and pregnancy, as well as articles on serum levels of hormones in patients with HS and the therapeutic options of hormonal manipulation therapy have all been included and are presented in this systematic review. Our results show that patients with HS do not seem to have increased levels of sex hormones and that their hormone levels lie within the normal range. While decreasing levels of progesterone and estrogen seem to coincide with disease flares in premenopausal women, the association is speculative and requires experimental confirmation. Antiandrogen treatment could be a valuable approach in treating HS, however randomized control trials are lacking.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Denmark
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / diagnosis*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / drug therapy*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Role
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sickness Impact Profile


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Metformin