What causes hidradenitis suppurativa?
While the underlying cause of HS is not known, a combination of genetic and environmental factors can trigger it. Some patients have an inherited tendency to develop the disease. Abnormal gland development may be another cause of HS.
Most often occurring after puberty, HS rarely occurs after age 40 or before puberty. It is during puberty that the surge of hormones causes changes in hair follicles. Follicles are tiny sacs within the skin from which each hair grows. If follicles become blocked or clogged, it can result in tender or painful, reddish bumps. As bacterial infection and inflammation progress, pus-filled pits of infection (abscesses) develop. If the follicles rupture, the infection spreads, often causing scars.
Flare-ups of HS can be triggered by:
- Women’s menstrual periods
- Weight gain
- Hormonal changes
- Inflammation of sweat glands
- Cigarette smoking
Who’s at risk for developing hidradenitis suppurativa?
Risk for HS is highest for:
- People in their teens, 20s and 30s
- Black people
- Overweight people
- People with severe acne
- People who have arthritis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease
- Tobacco smokers