What Is Acne Inversa?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Acne inversa is a skin condition that causes painful swelling and bumps. It can also cause fluid to ooze from the skin, and if the bumps are wounded, they often heal slowly. The causes of the disorder are thought to be linked to autoimmune disease. It can be made worse by obesity, eating an inflammatory diet, or smoking. Treatments can include lifestyle changes, antibiotics, surgery, and radiation.

Unlike regular acne, acne inversa often affects those who have already gone through adolescence. Some of the most common symptoms of the condition include bumps that may swell and burst, painful lumps, and fluid oozing from the skin. The abscesses on the skin can be chronic; if a bump is cut, the open wound may not heal for a long time. The condition can be very painful.

There is currently some debate about the true cause of acne inversa because there seem to be a lot of predisposing factors. People who’ve gone through puberty, sweat excessively, and are obese are thought to be more likely to get the disease. There is also some recent research supporting the claim that acne inversa may be linked to autoimmune conditions. The disease is not a result of bacteria on the skin, however.


The condition can be made worse or “triggered” by a variety of factors. Patients with acne inversa are often advised to avoid these triggers. Some factors that can worsen symptoms include wearing tight clothing, being overweight, and smoking. Certain types of drugs, such as oral contraceptives, are also thought to make the condition worse. If the patient lives in a humid and hot climate, this may not help the situation either.

There are a number of different treatments for acne inversa, although the proper one depends on the severity of the condition. This is true of many disorders; acne inversa is relatively poorly understood, however, so it’s important that the patient understands the benefits and risks of each treatment. One way to address the condition is to consider diet and lifestyle changes. This can include avoiding foods that cause inflammation as well as trying to slim down.

Medical treatments for acne inversa include antibiotics, steroid injections, and supplements such as zinc gluconate. If the condition doesn't improve with conservative treatment, surgery to remove the affected areas may be an option. In some parts of the world, radiation treatment is recommended for the condition, although this is rarely prescribed in the U.S.


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Post 3

My husband has hidradenitis suppurative as well as arthritis. The two seem to be connected, but since HS is such a rare condition and there is few to none research done on it, no one knows what the link is. There is also no known cure. My husband has been on antibiotics on and off and has even had a lump in his groin removed surgically. Neither treatment prevented new ones from forming.

The more frustrating part is that most of the doctors we've spoken with about HS have told us there isn't much that can be done. We've even met a few who had never seen an HS patient before.

As rare as this condition is, I still don't understand why there is little attention paid to this condition and possible treatments. There are HS patients who are suffering daily because of it, just like my husband.

Post 2

@ysmina-- No, they're not related. Both can involve an infection but an infection is not the cause of acne inversa (hidradenitis suppurativa). It has more to do with sweat glands being obstructed and infected.

And you're right cystic acne doesn't ever burst, the pus doesn't ever come up to the first layer of skin, instead it builds up underneath. And cystic acne will appear on the face, sometimes the chest and back. But acne inversa only appears where there are sweat glands- so the armpits, and breast and groin area.

The other difference would be that cystic acne is not at all hereditary whereas some doctors think that acne inversa might be hereditary because more than one family member usually gets it.

Post 1

This sounds a bit like cystic acne, cystic acne also causes bumps and pus buildup under the skin. I don't think that a cystic acne could ever 'burst' though.

Are these two related at all?

And where on the body does acne inversa generally happen?

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