What is hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic—or long-lasting—systemic (throughout the body) inflammatory disease that affects your skin. This means your HS symptoms may:

  • Appear throughout your body (both on the surface and in deep layers of your skin)
  • Progress over time
  • Leave irreversible damage (like tracts and scars)

However, don't blame yourself, because you didn't cause your HS. While the exact cause of HS is still unknown, the immune system is believed to play a role in the symptoms you experience—like painful bumps and draining wounds. Keep in mind that HS can also be associated with other conditions, called comorbidities. That's why it’s important to partner with a doctor who has experience treating inflammatory diseases, such as HS.

You didn’t cause your HS symptoms.
Inflammation did.

  • The body naturally produces inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, like TNF-alpha, to help regulate immune activity and inflammation.
  • For people with HS, your body produces too many inflammatory proteins, including TNF-alpha. This imbalance in your immune system leads to increased inflammation throughout the body.
  • This chronic inflammation affects the deep layers of your skin, causing pressure, which can build to become HS symptoms.

That’s why it’s important to understand what’s happening inside your body—not only the symptoms you can see. Learn how HUMIRA works for HS by targeting and blocking a specific source of inflammation that can lead to your HS symptoms.

Watch this video to get a deeper understanding of your HS.

Play “What is HS?” video

What is HS Video

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Know your hidradenitis suppurativa terms.

Many scientific terms used with HS can be complicated. So, knowing the right words can help when talking with your dermatologist about your condition. Here are some common words you should know about HS:

Common areas of the body that are affected by HS


a condition that continues for a long time


occurring throughout the body


a swollen area or bump, generally just below the surface of the skin, that contains fluid


a lump at the surface of the skin that may look like a pimple

Fistula (Draining Wound)

an opening on the surface of the skin from a tunnel of connecting abscesses

Interactive hidradenitis suppurativa journal

Get your free interactive HS Journal.

There’s a fun way to learn more about HS. Track your journey, tease your brain, channel your inner artist, and discover more when you sign up.

Who is affected by HS?

  • HS is 3x more common in females than males
  • HS usually begins in adolescents, after puberty
  • People who have HS in their family are genetically inclined to have HS themselves
HUMIRA patient Denise quote icon

"I’ve been misdiagnosed a lot during my journey. But there is a name for this condition and it’s called HS."


-Denise, a real HUMIRA patient

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