early signs of hidradenitis suppurativa

What are the early signs that may suggest a person is developing Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Spotting the early signs of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is crucial for timely intervention. Early signs include tender bumps, often mistaken for common skin issues like acne, and areas of skin that may feel sore or painful to touch. These signs can emerge in areas prone to friction or where skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts. It’s not uncommon for individuals to dismiss these early symptoms or attribute them to poor hygiene or lifestyle factors, which is a common misconception. However, recognizing these signs as potential indicators of HS is an important first step in getting an accurate diagnosis and starting appropriate treatment.

What does Stage 1 HS look like?

Stage 1 HS is often characterized by the presence of solitary or multiple isolated abscesses without sinus tracts or scarring, which may be misinterpreted as boils or pimples. It’s important to note that these are not just ordinary skin issues. The abscesses in HS are typically larger, have a longer duration, and are more painful. Patients might also notice a cycle of the lesions – they heal and recur over time. Hidradenitis suppurativa diagnosis criteria is specific. As an organization, we’ve heard from many patients that this recurring pattern was one of the reasons they sought medical help, which eventually led to an HS diagnosis.

How do you diagnose hidradenitis suppurativa early?

Early diagnosis of HS can be challenging due to its resemblance to other conditions, but it’s not impossible. It requires a thorough clinical examination and attention to the patient’s history of skin lesions. Healthcare providers should look for recurring, painful nodules in areas such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts. If a patient presents with these symptoms and has a history of similar episodes, HS should be suspected. In addition, it’s important to ask about family history, as HS can have a genetic component. We encourage patients to document their symptoms and lesions with photographs to aid in the diagnostic process during consultations.

What can be mistaken for hidradenitis?

Several skin condition HS symptoms can be mistaken for hidradenitis suppurativa, making the diagnostic process complex. Common misdiagnoses include acne, folliculitis, ingrown hairs, and cysts. In some cases, abscesses caused by HS are mistaken for infections such as Staphylococcal or other bacterial infections, leading to inappropriate treatment. This underscores the importance of not only recognizing the unique characteristics of HS lesions but also understanding their typical locations and the recurring pattern of outbreaks.

At what age can you get hidradenitis suppurativa?

HS can start at any age, but it most commonly develops after puberty and before the age of 30. It’s been observed that hormonal changes can play a role in the onset of the disease, which might explain the higher prevalence during these years. Nevertheless, we’ve seen cases where symptoms start emerging at a younger or older age, which highlights the importance of vigilance regardless of the patient’s age. Although HS affects both genders, women are more commonly diagnosed, possibly due to hormonal influences and reporting bias, as they may be more proactive in seeking medical help.

How does the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation help those with HS?

At the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation, we play a multifaceted role in supporting individuals with HS. Through education and awareness, we strive to shorten the path to diagnosis and effective treatment. We provide resources and support that help patients better understand their condition and advocate for themselves in clinical settings. By sharing personal narratives and experiences, we aim to build a broader understanding of HS, which can contribute to more personalized and empathetic care. Our foundation also actively participates in research and advocacy efforts, aiming to improve overall patient care and advance our understanding of the disease.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): An extensive resource for health-related information, including disease prevention and health promotion. https://www.cdc.gov
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  • UNICEF: Provides information on the health and wellness of children and mothers around the world. https://www.unicef.org
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  • Mayo Clinic: A nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated clinical practice, education, and research. https://www.mayoclinic.org
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: An academic medical center which provides information on various health conditions and research updates. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org

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