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Last Updated on October 5, 2023

The phenomenon of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) has long been misunderstood and shrouded in mystery. Among the most common questions surrounding the condition comes back to “Is Hidradenitis suppurativa contagious?”. This blog aims to unravel the truth about hidradenitis suppurativa and its contagiousness, shedding light on the condition’s nature, causes, and management.

Understanding Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis Suppurativa, often referred to as “acne inversa,” is a dermatological condition characterized by the formation of painful, recurring lumps or abscesses beneath the skin. Moreover, these abscesses typically develop in areas where skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts. Over time, these abscesses can rupture, developing tunnels or tracts beneath the skin.

Is Hidradenitis suppurativa contagious? The exact cause of HS remains the subject of ongoing research, but it involves a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. Poor hygiene or contagious agents like bacteria or viruses do not cause HS contrary to common misconceptions.

Debunking the Myth “Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa Contagious?”

One of the most significant misconceptions surrounding HS is the belief that it is contagious. Let’s make it clear through this blog.

Is hidradenitis suppurativa contagious? HS is a complex and chronic inflammatory skin condition primarily affecting hair follicles and sweat glands. While the exact cause is still under study, it is thought to involve a combination of genetic predisposition and immune system dysfunction. In short, Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a result of factors within an individual’s body and is not a result of external agents or pathogens.

The Genetics Behind Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Understanding the genetic component of HS is essential in debunking the contagious myth. Research has shown that HS tends to run in families. However, if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has HS, you may have a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. This genetic predisposition is a main factor in the development of Hidradenitis Suppurativa and thus raises the question, “Is hidradenitis suppurativa contagious?”

Genetic studies have identified specific gene variations associated with an increased risk of HS. These genes cause inflammation, immune response, and skin structure. However, having these genetic variations doesn’t guarantee that a person will develop HS, as other factors, including hormonal changes and lifestyle factors, also play a role.

Is HS a Lifelong Disease?

Yes, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is indeed a lifelong disease. It presents as a chronic condition characterized by recurrent flare-ups, involving painful lumps, abscesses, and tunnels beneath the skin. These episodes can come and go over time, but the underlying condition persists, making it a long-term challenge. While there is no cure, management strategies, and treatments can help control symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with HS. However, the condition requires ongoing care and monitoring, emphasizing its chronic nature in the lives of those affected.

Immune System Dysregulation in HS

Another critical aspect of HS that underscores its non-contagious nature is the immune system’s role. In HS, the immune system appears to malfunction, leading to chronic inflammation and the formation of abscesses and tunnels beneath the skin. This immune dysregulation is a hallmark of the condition and sets it apart from contagious diseases and therefore answers the question “Is hidradenitis suppurativa contagious”

The immune system’s response in HS is thought to be triggered by factors such as hair follicle blockages, friction, and hormonal changes. Occasionally, the immune system mistakenly targets healthy skin tissue, causing painful nodules and abscesses. This autoimmune-like response is a pivotal contributor to the development and persistence of HS.

Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa Contagious? How Do You Manage HS Symptoms?

HS can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary in severity among individuals. Common symptoms include:

Painful lumps and abscesses

These can be quite painful and may rupture, leading to drainage of pus.

Skin tunnels and scarring

As HS progresses, tunnels or tracts can form beneath the skin, creating interconnected pockets of infection and inflammation. This can result in extensive scarring.

Recurrent flare-ups

Is hidradenitis suppurativa contagious because of its recurrent flare-ups, during which symptoms worsen before temporarily improving? Stress, hormonal changes, and friction can trigger flare-ups.

Reduced quality of life

Due to the pain, discomfort, and social stigma associated with HS, individuals often experience a decreased quality of life. The condition can impact their ability to work, engage in physical activities, and maintain social relationships.

Psychological effects

HS can also take a toll on mental health, leading to feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Management and Treatment

Managing HS involves a combination of medical interventions and lifestyle adjustments. While there is no cure for HS, various strategies can help control symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. These may include:

Topical and oral antibiotics

Antibiotics can help control bacterial overgrowth and infection in the affected areas.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Physicians prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation.

Biologic therapies

It may be necessary to prescribe biologic medications that target specific aspects of the immune system in severe cases.

Lifestyle changes

Avoiding tight-fitting clothing, maintaining good hygiene, and losing weight (if overweight) can help reduce friction and prevent flare-ups.

Warm compresses and hygiene

Applying warm compresses to affected areas can help alleviate pain and promote drainage of abscesses. Proper hygiene is essential to prevent infection.


In advanced cases of HS, surgical procedures are a go-to to remove affected tissue or drain abscesses. However, these procedures are typically a last resort for unresponsive cases.

Is Hidradenitis Contagious?

The Importance of Education and Awareness

In addition to the lack of awareness and understanding of HS among the general public, healthcare providers also face challenges. However, dispelling the contagious myth is just one step in raising awareness about HS and improving the lives of those affected by it.

Education about “is hidradenitis suppurativa contagious, is crucial for

  • Early diagnosis

Increasing awareness can lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention, potentially improving treatment outcomes.

  • Reducing stigma

Many individuals with HS experience shame and embarrassment due to the visible nature of the condition. However, a more informed society can help reduce the stigma associated with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

  • Advocacy and research

Raising awareness can lead to increased research funding and advocacy efforts to better understand and manage Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

Can HS spread from person to person? In Conclusion

In summary, the direct answer to the question “Is Hidradenitis Supuurativa contagious?” is no, It’s not. It is a complex skin condition with genetic and immune system factors, but It cannot be spread from person to person through direct contact, sharing personal items or any other means of transmission typically associated with contagious diseases. Understanding the non-contagious nature of HS is essential for dispelling myths, reducing stigma, and improving the lives of individuals affected by this chronic condition.

While there is no cure for HS, advancements in research and treatment options provide hope for better management and improved quality of life for those living with this challenging condition. However, increased awareness, support, and advocacy can play a crucial role in enhancing the lives of HS patients and driving further research into its causes and treatment options.


MetroBoston Clinical Partners is a well established and experienced research center in the greater Boston area. Under the leadership of qualified physicians and medical professionals, we coordinate a range of clinical research trials in Dermatology and Internal Medicine.

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