Suppurative hidradenitis L73.2

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Duygu Percin

All authors of this article

Last updated on: 25.05.2022

Dieser Artikel auf Deutsch


Abscès tubereux de l'aiselle; acne inversa; Acnetetrade; Apocrine acne; apocrine axillary abscess; Axilla abscess; Axillary abscess apocrine; Chronic recurrent hidradenitis; Dissecting terminal hair folliculitis; follicular occlusion syndrome; Follicular occlusion triad; Hidrosadenitis; Intertriginous acne; pyodermia fistulans sinifica; sweat gland abscess; Sweat gland abscess; Sweat gland abscess apocrine; Verneuil`s disease; Verneuil's disease

This section has been translated automatically.

Velpeau, 1839; Verneuil, 1854; Plewig and Steger, 1989

This section has been translated automatically.

Rare, chronic recurrent, melting and scarring, furunculoid, inversely (intertriginous) localized inflammation of skin and subcutis, which manifests itself preferably in the intertriginous areas, i.e. perianal, inguinal and/or axillary. The main focus is on the destruction of terminal hair follicles in intertriginous skin areas. Smoking and obesity are important provoking factors.

This section has been translated automatically.

In Denmark, the prevalence in the general population is 1.1%. In England, an incidence of 1:600 is reported. Africans have higher incidences than Europeans.

This section has been translated automatically.

Chronic folliculitis with destruction of terminal hair follicles and secondary involvement of apocrine sweat glands. Heredity and mode of inheritance are controversial. In some patients, follicular hyperkeratosis with subsequent superinfection can be detected (see acne inversa; acne triad or acne tetrad). In other patients, however, follicular hyperkeratoses cannot be detected. Otherwise, the clinical picture is largely identical.

General favoring factors: smoking (90% of pat. are smokers!) sweating, obesity (odds ratio 3.9), metabolic syndrome (Phan K etal. 2019), abrasive clothing, regular shaving of axillary hair, depilatory externals.

Familial hidradenitis suppurativa:

  • Mutations in the gamma-secretase complex have been identified in the very rare familial forms of hidradenitis suppurativa (see Acne Inversa Familial 2, with or without Dowling-Degos disease; OMIM: 613736). Pathogenic mutations are absent in sporadic cases.
  • MEFV defect (MEFV stands for "MEFV Innate Immuity Regulator, Pyrin"). The protein encoded by the MEFV gene, also known as pyrin or marenostrin, is an important modulator of innate immunity and the inflammatory response in response to IFNG/IFN-gamma. Mutations in this gene are associated with familial Mediterranean fever, a hereditary periodic fever syndrome. MEFV mutations are more common in hidradenitis suppurativa than in the normal population. They are associated with disease severity but are also of prognostic significance in many other inflammatory diseases.
  • Crohn's disease: Associations with Crohn's disease have been described - risk increased threefold (Garg et al 2018) - as well as with rheumatoid factor-negative polyarthritides, hypertension, and pyoderma gangraenosum. (knee-ankle-elbow joints); rarely also with systemic amyloidosis.

This section has been translated automatically.

In a larger American study (Garg A et al. 2018), the age of onset ranged from 28 to 64 years; 56.5% aged 18 - 44 years, 34.2% aged 45- 64 years, 9.3% were > 65 years old. Perianal manifestation is more common in men than in women. Also more frequent in smokers.

This section has been translated automatically.

Axilla, inguinal region, anal and perianal region, perineum, scrotum, buttocks, inner and extensor sides of the thigh, upper arm region. Rarely nipple area and vulva.

Clinical features
This section has been translated automatically.

In the early stages, some cases show inflammatory, superficial, bright red, painful nodules and nodules. These can confluent into painful, bulbous abscesses or break open in a purulent manner.

Depending on the clinical manifestation, 3 degrees of severity (Hurley) are distinguished:

  • Grade I: Isolated, single or multiple painful abscesses, no scar strands.
  • Grade II: Recurrent painful abscesses with stranding and scarring, single or multiple, but no extensive scarring.
  • Grade III: Diffuse, plate-like, inflammatory, painful infiltrations, or multiple strands and abscesses connected to each other. Danger of joint contractures due to pain-related restriction of movement.

Differential diagnosis
This section has been translated automatically.

This section has been translated automatically.

Recurrence: Recurrences are possible even after radical surgery. The recurrence rate varies depending on the location: axillary about 3%, inguino-perineal about 35%, submammary about 50%. In prolonged courses, the formation of squamous cell carcinoma (Marjolin's ulcer) is possible.

Furthermore, dermal contractures with restricted mobility of the shoulder and hip joints, persistent swelling of the external genitalia, deep pararectal fistulas in the perianal region, urethral fistulas in the genital region may remain. Rarely, septic courses are seen.

Increased cardiovascular risk: Apparently, patients with hidradenitis suppurativa are at increased cardiovascular risk (myocardial infarctions, ischemic strokes)

This section has been translated automatically.

Grade I:

  • In early uncomplicated hidradenitis suppurativa intralesional triamcinolone crystal suspension injections 5-10 mg (e.g. with Volon A) are indicated. Abscess incision with subsequent drainage (e.g. insertion of a polyvidon-iodine-soaked ointment strip) in case of fluctuation and threatening perforation. Accompanying system antibiotic treatment with tetracyclines (Tetracycline Wolff 1.0-1.5 g/day p.o.), doxycycline (e.g. Doxycycline Stada 100-200 mg/day p.o.) for 14 days until the inflammatory symptoms subside.
  • Alternatively: Ciprofloxacin (e.g. Ciprobay 2 times/day 250 mg p.o.) or cephalosporins like cefadroxil (e.g. Cedrox 1,0-1,5 g/day). After receiving the culture result, therapy regime according to the antibiogram.
  • Alternative: The studies PIONEER I and PIONEER II confirmed a good efficiency of Adalimumab in this disease pattern (Saunte DML 2017).
  • Prophylaxis: After healing, regular treatment of the affected areas with disinfectants and deodorants, e.g. with 15-20% alcoholic aluminium chloride hexahydrate solution R005 or R006 or gel R004. Caution! Not all patients tolerate deodorants based on aluminium chloride! Important: Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes such as T-shirts, blue jeans, body shirts, etc. Do not use deodorant rollers or deodorant sticks.

Grade II:

  • Surgical therapy: Depending on the localisation, the first choice therapy is radical surgical repair of the inflammatory affected areas (Kirschke J et al. 2015). To what extent preoperatively a therapy with isotretinoin (e.g. acne normin) 0.5-1.0 mg/kg bw p.o. over 3-6 months should be applied has not yet been decided (Blok JL et al. 2013). The German guidelines do not provide for this. Overall, the success of isotretinoin in hidradenitis suppurativa can be described as rather disappointing (Scheinfeld N 2013).
  • In case of axillary localization: Oval-lanceolate incision of the secreting glandular areas previously marked by the Minor sweat test. For this purpose aqueous iodine solution is applied to the axilla with a swab and then powdered with wheat starch; the secreting areas are marked blue-black. Excision is followed by subcutaneous mobilization of the wound edge and removal of the inflammatory conglomerates with the dissecting scissors. If technically possible, primary wound closure. Postoperative antibiotic treatment. A dressing to prevent abduction movements should immobilize the arm for about 7 days. Primary wound closure is often not possible. In these cases, closure can be attempted via mesh graft or the surgical field can be left open. Regular dressings with alginates (e.g. Algosteril, Tegagel), accompanying antibiosis. After appropriate wound granulation, mesh graft transplantation.

Grade III:

  • Surgical therapy: In cases of severe areal hidradenitis of the axillae or genitoanal region, radical excision of the inflammatory field is the method of choice. If possible start 3-6 months before with isotretinoin (e.g. isotretinoin-ratiopharm; acne normin) 0.5-1.0 mg/kg bw p.o. If necessary, intravenous antibiotic therapy (e.g. ceftriaxone once/day 2 g i.v.) should be administered over 7-10 days preoperatively. The operations should be performed in clinics that have the necessary experience in this field. Details of the surgical procedure are identical to the procedures for grade II suppurative hidradenitis. Depending on the radicality of the operation, secondary healing shows a recurrence rate of up to 30%. In principle, the more radical the operation, the lower the risk of relapse!

General therapy
This section has been translated automatically.

After healing, regular treatment of the affected areas with disinfectants and deodorants, e.g. with 15-20% alcoholic aluminium chloride hexahydrate solution or gel(R004). Caution! Not all patients tolerate deodorants based on aluminium chloride!

Important: Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes such as T-shirts, tight-fitting jeans, body shirts, etc.

Do not use deodorant rollers or deodorant sticks.

Internal therapy
This section has been translated automatically.

Adalimumab: a system therapy with Adalimumab (Humira®: 40mg s.c./1 x per week - PiONEER I -study) leads to a good clinical outcome after a period of 12 weeks. Adalimumab is approved for this indication (dosage as previously indicated). Dosing for adults with moderate to severe acne inversa: Humira® 80 mg / 0.8 ml: Induction 2 injections 80 mg (week 0: 160 mg), Maintenance: From week 2, one injection 80 mg every other week.

Experimental: Etanercept (2 times/week 25/50 mg s.c.) to. Efficacy is doubtful.

Experimental: The use of cyproterone acetate (Diane-35, Androcur-10) is rather disappointing in women, this is also true for spironolactone.

Experimental: Therapeutic approaches with infliximab (®, 3 infusions, 5 mg/kg bw at weeks 0, 2, 6; followed by 1-year observation period) are found to be positive in a proportion of cases.

Experimental: therapeutic approaches with fumaric acid ester (Deckers IE et al. 2015).

Experimental: focal therapy with botulinum toxn -A. The data situation for this therapy approach needs further studies.

This section has been translated automatically.

In the best case, only a single solitary abscess formation. If left untreated, the course becomes chronic and progressive. The affected areas may also extend beyond the axillary and ileoinguinal regions, e.g. to the upper arms, thighs and buttocks. The tendency to recurrence is very high, even after passive healing.


Hidradenitis suppurativa may be a component of versch. systemic autoinflammatory syndromes such as:

PAPASH syndrome: pyoderma gangraenosum, acne, pyogenic arthritis and suppurative hidradenitis.

PASH syndrome: pyoderma gangrenosum, acne and suppurative hidradenitis.

These syndromes are associated with mutation in the PSTPIP1 gene (proline-serine-threonine-phosphatase interaction protein-1 gene) and the PSENEN gene(PSENEN is the acronym for presenilin enhancer, gamma-secretase complex), respectively (Vinkel C et al. 2017).

Familial Mediterranean fever: In patients with familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), the most common hereditary autoinflammatory disease, hidradenitis suppurativa may have a severe phenotype and overlapping PAPASH-like features (Vural S et al. 2017). A molecular link between familial Mediterranean fever and PASH/PAPASH is hypothesized in patients with complex hidradenitis suppuratia, especially when accompanied by pyoderma gangrenosum, due to the interaction of Mediterranean fever gene(MEFV) and PSTPIP1 products.

This section has been translated automatically.

In 1839 the clinical picture was described for the first time by Velpeau. 1854 Fundamental work by Verneuil; his view: Hidradenitis suppurativa was a consequence of inflamed sweat glands. Lane and Brunsting suspected a dependence on acne. In 1989 Plewig and Steger coined the controversial term"acne inversa" for this clinical picture.

There is reason to believe that the clinical term hidradenitis suppurativa does not conceal a clinical entity, but that different causalities lead to a largely identical clinical phenotype. Probably, the clinical picture of acne inversa is etiopathogenetically (and also clinically: evidence of comedone formation!) to be distinguished from (idiopathic) hidradenitis suppurativa. This would also justify different therapeutic approaches!

Smoking seems to be pathogenetically significant. In a larger study, 92% of the respondents were smokers!

Isotretinoin seems to have no therapeutic benefit. Acitretin seems to have positive effects with long-term therapy (Zoubulis CC et al. 2015).

This section has been translated automatically.

  1. Aadams DR et al (2010) Treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa with etanercept injection. Arch Dermatol 146: 501-504
  2. Blok JL et al (2013) Systemic therapy with immunosuppressive agents and retinoids in hidradenitis suppurativa: a systematic review. Br J Dermatol 168:243-252.
  3. Bocchini S et al (2003) Gluteal and perianal hidradenitis suppurativa: surgical treatment by wide excision. Dis Colon Rectum 46: 944-949.
  4. Brunsting H (1939) Hidradenitis suppurativa: abscess of the apocrine sweat glands. Arch Derm Syphil 39: 108-120
  5. Cusack C et al (2006) Etanercept: effective in the management of hidradenitis suppurativa. Br J Dermatol 154: 726-729.
  6. Deckers IE et al. (2015) Fumarates, a new treatment option for therapy-resistant hidradenitis suppurativa
    :a prospective open-label pilot study.Br J Dermatol 172:828-829.
  7. Egeberg A et al.(2015) Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality in Patients With Hidradenitis Suppurativa. JAMA Dermatol 152:429-434.
  8. Feito-Rodríguez M et al.(2009) Prepubertal hidradenitis suppurativa successfully treated with botulinum toxin A. Dermatol Surg 35:1300-1302.
  9. Garg A et al. (2018) Overall and Subgroup Prevalence of Crohn's Disease Among Patients With HidradenitisSuppurativa
    : A Population-Based Analysis in the United States. JAMA Dermatol 154:814-818. Hsiao J et al (2010) Hidradenitis suppurativa and concomitant pyoderma gangrenosum. Arch Dermatol 146: 1265-1270.
  10. Jemec GB (2003) Hidradenitis suppurativa. J Cutan Med Surg 7: 47-56.
  11. Katsanos KH et al (2002) Axillary hidradenitis suppurativa successfully treated with infliximab in a Crohn's disease patient. Am J Gastroenterol 97: 2155-2156.
  12. Kimball AB et al (2016) HiSCR (Hidradenitis Suppurativa Clinical Response): a novel clinical endpoint to evaluate therapeutic outcomes in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa from the placebo-controlled portion of a phase 2 adalimumab study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 30: 989-994.
  13. Khoo AB et al.(2014) Hidradenitis suppurativa treated with Clostridium botulinum toxin A. Clin Exp Dermatol 39:749-750.
  14. Kirschke J et al. (2015) Hidradenitis suppurativa/acne inversa: An update.
    Dermatol 66: 413-422.
  15. McMillan K (2014) Hidradenitis suppurativa: number of diagnosed patients, demographic characteristics, and treatment patterns in the United States. Am J Epidemiol 179:1477-1483.
  16. Mekies JR et al (2008) Long-term efficacy of a single course of infliximab in hidradenitis suppurativa. Br J Dermatol 158: 370-374
  17. Pérez Diaz D et al (1995) Squamous cell carcinoma complicating perianal hidradenitis suppurativa. Int J Colorectal 10: 225-228.
  18. Phan K etal. (2019) Hidradenitis suppurativa and metabolic syndrome - systematic review and adjusted meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol in press.
  19. Plewig G, Steger M (1989): Acne inversa in: Acne and related disorders. Marks R, Plewig G (eds), Martin Dunitz Ltd, London, pp 345-347.
  20. Roy M et al (1997) Probable association between hidradenitis suppurativa and Crohn's disease:significance of epithelioid granuloma. Br J Surg 84: 375-376
  21. Saunte DML (2017) Hidradenitis suppurativa: advances in diagnosis and treatment. JAMA 318:2019-2032.

  22. Scheinfeld N (2013) Hidradenitis suppurativa: A practical review of possible medical treatments based on over 350 hidradenitis patients. Dermatol Online J 19(4):1.

  23. Sorio A et al. (2009) Absence of efficacy of oral isotretinoin in hidradenitis suppurativa: a retrospective study based on patients outcome assessment. Dermatology 218:134-135
  24. Velpeau A (1839) In: Aissele: Dictionnaire de Medicine, on Repertoire General des Sciences Medicales sons de Rapport Theorique et Pratique (Behcet Jeune Z ed) Vol. 2: 91.
  25. Verneuil A (1854): Etudes sur les tumeurs de la peau et quelques maladies de glandes sudoripares. Arch Gen Med 94: 693-705
  26. Vinkel C et al (2017) Autoinflammatory syndromes associated with hidradenitis suppurativa and/or acne. Int J Dermatol 56:811-818.

  27. Vural S et al (2017) Familial Mediterranean fever patients with hidradenitis suppurativa. Int J Dermatol 56:660-663.

  28. Zouboulis CC et al (2015) European S1 guideline for the treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa/acne inversa. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 29:619-644.
  29. Zouboulis CC et al (2015) Hidradenitis Suppurativa/Acne Inversa: Criteria for Diagnosis, SeverityAssessment
    , Classification and Disease Evaluation. Dermatology 231:184-190.


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 25.05.2022