Causes of Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin condition in which small, red bumps to marble-sized lumps show up in certain areas of the body. Because these can spread to the face, and it is also known as acne inversa, but don’t confuse it with acne.

If left untreated, this skin disorder can spread all over the body and linger for years.


Look for the following symptoms around the parts of your body where hair grows or where skin touches skin (such as the armpits, groin, under the breasts, between the buttocks, or on the inner thighs):

  • Blackheads, often in pairs
  • Tender, red bumps, which can grow larger over time, burst and drain a bad-smelling pus, and be accompanied by itching, burning, and excessive sweating
  • Lumps under the skin, pea- to marble-sized, which can also become inflamed and enlarged
  • Leaking bumps, which may not heal, could scar, and can create tunnels to other affected areas under the skin

7 Possible Causes

If you have the above symptoms, and they have lasted for more than a few weeks or continue to spread, see a doctor right away. Although there are home treatments, such as using creams for rashes or taking medicinal baths, you may require surgical intervention.

HS starts around hair follicles that are either clogged or inflamed. Doctors cannot pinpoint an exact cause, since there seem to be a number of reasons why it can happen. If you are a part of the one percent of the population who suffers from this skin affliction, it could have been caused by one of the seven possible causes listed below.

1. Genetics

Although being related to someone who suffers from this condition is not a guarantee that you will develop it, too, you could have that tendency. If you know this is a part of your family history, try to avoid #5 and #6 in particular to lessen your chances of getting it.

2. Hormones

Hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on your body, especially when accompanied by excessive sweating and oiliness of the skin. Although some hormonal changes are inevitable (as during and after a pregnancy), your doctor may be able to help treat this and avoid or lessen any problems caused by this.

3. Age

Hand-in-hand with hormones, this skin condition usually affects people after puberty. Young adults are the most susceptible, although bumps that leak and spread can continue to for years, if untreated.

4. Gender

Although men can develop this condition, women are more likely to get it.

5. Cigarette Smoking

Smoking can be a cause, as well as an irritant if you already have bumps. Quitting smoking is one way in which you can lessen your chances of getting them to begin with, especially if you have other risk factors.

Clinical observations show that almost 90% of all people with this condition are smokers. The studies mention that nicotine is extremely harmful. Here’s why:

  • The nicotine contained in tobacco smoke, stimulates the sweat glands function and increases perspiration.
  • The nicotine increases the activity of certain types of skin cells involved in inflammatory reactions.
  • It is known that nicotine stimulates the growth of bacteria of type Staphylococcus aureus.

6. Weight Gain

Being overweight causes damage to more than your heart. Like smoking, you can eliminate this risk factor altogether through diet and exercise, and if you suspect your weight gain could be due in part to a hormone problem you can see your doctor for a way to treat that, as well.

Obese people suffer from this disease more often than people with a normal weight and they are prone to develop more severe forms of this condition. People who are obese tend to have skin that contains more biologically active substances involved in the development of inflammatory reactions. Some of these substances are produced in body fat.

7. Shaving, Epilation and Deodorants

Some specialists consider that the development of hidradenitis may be caused by shaving but also by the wearing of tight clothes that irritate the skin. The use of deodorants (antiperspirants) is also considered one of the most active causes of HS development.

If you are a smoker, try to quit if you can. If you are overweight, try to lose some weight if you can. There are also many other treatment methods available that you can try. The best thing to do is to make lifestyle changes that can help eliminate one, or all of these risk factors.