Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) symptoms & severity

Understanding your HS symptoms.

Abscesses, nodules, scarring, and tunneling. Depending on your experience with HS, you might be familiar with some of these symptoms.

No matter how familiar you are, because HS is a chronic, systemic inflammatory condition, it’s important to partner with a dermatologist who has experience diagnosing and treating HS.

How does a dermatologist determine the severity of your HS?

Dermatologists often determine HS severity in stages—from Stage I (mild), to Stage II (moderate), to Stage III (severe).* It's important that your HS severity is diagnosed by a doctor who has experience with HS in order to understand your treatment options.

Stage I (mild):

Stage 1 of HS on armpit image
  • One or more abscesses with no scarring or tunneling under the skin. Breakouts may clear up but then come back during any stage.

HUMIRA is not for people with mild HS.

Stage II (moderate):

Stage 2 of HS on armpit image
  • Abscesses are widely spread and may become connected by tunnels. Tunnels (also known as tracts) can start forming deep in the skin, though they’re not always visible on the surface. Scars begin to form on the surface and within the deeper tissue.

Stage III (severe):

Stage 3 of HS on armpit image
  • Large areas of the body are covered by abscesses and scarring with widespread tunneling beneath the skin, connecting multiple abscesses.
  • One or more abscesses with no scarring or tunneling under the skin. Breakouts may clear up but then come back during any stage.

HUMIRA is not for people with mild HS.

  • Abscesses are widely spread and may become connected by tunnels. Tunnels (also known as tracts) can start forming deep in the skin, though they’re not always visible on the surface. Scars begin to form on the surface and within the deeper tissue.
  • Large areas of the body are covered by abscesses and scarring with widespread tunneling beneath the skin, connecting multiple abscesses.

*These descriptions are based on a well-accepted assessment of severity called the Hurley Staging System.

See a short list of hidradenitis suppurativa definitions.

Where hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) symptoms appear on the body illustration

Where do HS symptoms most commonly appear?

While HS symptom locations may differ between men and women, the areas most commonly affected by HS can include:

  • Under the arms
  • Groin
  • Under the breasts
  • Buttocks
  • Upper thighs

HUMIRA patient Adah quote icon

“If you’re struggling with HS, it’s important to take action. Go see the dermatologist.”

-Adah, a real HUMIRA patient

Find a dermatologist to help manage your HS.

Dermatologists who have experience treating hidradenitis suppurativa can help you manage your condition with different treatment options. See a dermatologist today.


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