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Facts and Figures



  • Studies have reported a global prevalence of 1% in the general population.1
  • The condition is easy to misdiagnose and because people living with HS often feel too embarrassed to talk about their symptoms or to seek medical help from their GP, the number of people who are actually diagnosed with HS is far less than this estimate.2,3
  • HS can occur at any age, but the condition most commonly develops in adults in their early 20s and declines after the age of 50-55.2,3
  • Women are more likely to develop HS than men.2,3


  • Hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as HS, is a long-term or chronic skin condition that can be distinguished by painful, inflamed areas typically located around the armpits, groin and in between the buttocks. The inflamed pustules, nodules and spots usually occur where certain sweat glands (known as apocrine glands) are located, as well as under the breasts and on the inner thighs, where skin may rub together.1,2,3,4,5




  • Hidradenitis suppurativa typically affects areas on the body:
    • With apocrine glands (sweat glands in areas with abundant hair follicles) such as the armpits and groin2,3,4,5
    • Where the skin rubs together, such as under the breasts, in between the buttock ,and on the inner thighs3,4,5


  • Scientists don't know exactly what causes hidradenitis suppurativa or HS, but problems with the structure of the hair follicle are thought to play a role.3,7
  • It is also thought that the inflamed spots and pustules tend to develop when there is a blockage of hair follicles and inflammation of certain sweat glands found in certain areas like the armpits and groin.3,4,5
  • Blockage of the hair follicle can cause the area to swell up and burst, or may form abscesses and become severely infected.4,7

When is it time to talk to your GP?

  • If you or someone you know is experiencing recurring, painful nodules or spots in the armpits or groin area, it is important to see your family GP to ensure proper diagnosis and care. Visit our 'Talking to Your GP' section for information and tips to help guide a discussion with your doctor.

Talking to Your GP


If you think you may have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), seeing your family doctor for an accurate diagnosis and useful information is an important first step in managing your condition.



  1. Revuz, J., 11 Chaussee de al Muette, 75016 Paris, France Eur Acad of Dermatology and Venereology; 23.9 (Sep 2009): 985-998
  2. Jemec G. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. N Engl J Med. 2012; 366:158-64.
  3. Zouboulis CC, Tsatsou F (2012) Disorders of the apocrine sweat glands. In: Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, Gilchrest BA, Paller AS, Leffell DJ, Wolff K (eds) Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed, McGraw Hill, New York Chicago, pp 947-959.
  4. Collier F., Smith R., Morton C. Diagnosis and management of hidradenitis suppurativa. BMJ. 2013; 346:f2121.
  5. Mayo Health Clinic. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Available at: Published April 9, 2013. Accessed 2nd October, 2014.
  6. Fimmel S, Zouboulis CC. Comorbidities of hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). Dermatoendocrinol 2010; 2:9-16.
  7. Danby FW, et al. Preliminary findings suggest hidradenitis suppurativa may be due to defective follicular support. BJD. 2013; 168; 1034–1039.
  8. The British Association of Dermatologists. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Available at: Updated June 2013. Accessed October 2nd 2014.


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AXHUD141459a Date of Preparation Nov 2014

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