Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa contagious?

microscopic image of hidradenitis suppurativa
Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition affecting a significant number of people globally. It is a complex skin disorder that occurs due to inflammation of hair follicles and sweat glands This condition is known for causing painful lumps, abscesses, and sinus tracts, particularly in areas where skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, and buttocks.

While the exact cause of HS remains uncertain, a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors is believed to contribute to its development. Research shows that about 1-4% of the global population suffers from HS, with a higher prevalence in women and individuals aged between 20-40 years. One common question that arises among those diagnosed with HS, or their acquaintances, is whether HS is contagious. This article will delve into the nature of HS and clarify concerns about its transmission.

Is HS Contagious?

The straightforward answer is no, HS is not contagious. Hidradenitis Suppurativa is not an infectious disease; hence, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another through physical contact, sharing personal items, or any other means. The painful lumps and abscesses seen in HS are due to an inflammatory response within the body and not because of any infectious agents like bacteria or viruses.

Debunking Myths: Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa an STD?

There is a common misconception that HS is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This myth likely stems from the fact that HS often affects the groin and buttock areas. However, it is crucial to understand that HS is not an STD. The occurrence of HS in intimate areas is unrelated to sexual activity or transmission.

The Nature of HS: Why It’s Not Contagious

HS lesions result from the body’s immune response, leading to chronic inflammation. This condition involves the blockage of hair follicles, which subsequently rupture, forming painful nodules and abscesses. Unlike infectious diseases, HS does not involve any pathogenic microorganisms that could be passed from person to person.

The Genetic and Environmental Factors

HS has a significant genetic component, with studies indicating that about one-third of individuals with HS have a family history of the condition. Environmental factors, such as smoking and obesity, also play a pivotal role in the development and worsening of HS symptoms. Additionally, hormonal changes, especially during puberty and menstruation, can impact the severity of HS.

Living with HS: Addressing Concerns and Seeking Support

Understanding that HS is not contagious helps in reducing the social stigma often associated with the condition. For individuals living with HS, managing the disease requires a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes. It is essential to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare provider to create a personalized treatment plan. Support groups and counseling can also provide emotional support and practical advice for dealing with HS.


Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory condition that is not contagious. Misunderstandings about HS’s transmission can lead to unnecessary fear and stigma. By recognizing the non-infectious nature of HS, individuals can better manage the condition and foster a supportive environment for those affected. Despite the challenges of living with HS, appropriate medical care, lifestyle adjustments, and emotional support can significantly enhance the quality of life for those with this condition.

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Alavi, A., et al. (2015). Hidradenitis Suppurativa: An Update on Clinical Practice. British Journal of Dermatology.
Jemec, G. B. E. (2012). Clinical Practice. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. New England Journal of Medicine.
Zouboulis, C. C., et al. (2015). Hidradenitis Suppurativa/Acne Inversa: A Practical Guide. Springer.

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