May 17, 2022

How To Treat Hidradenitis Suppurativa Scars

Scarring is inevitable, but you can reduce the severity

applying ointment to Hidradenitis Suppurativa scars

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a painful and persistent chronic condition that causes cysts to form on and under your skin. If left untreated, broken cysts can leave deep scars behind and permanently affect the appearance of your skin. For many, these scars can be painful, itchy, and a source of emotional stress and lack of self-confidence.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Dermatologist Asfa Akhtar, DO, explains a number of ways to prevent the severity of scar tissue and why it’s important to treat hidradenitis early.

Treatment options for hidradenitis suppurativa scars

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic condition, so there isn’t a known permanent cure. Like psoriasis, flare-ups can happen on occasion. When they do, it’s important to address them as early as possible before your condition worsens.

“When cysts form, they connect with each other under the skin through deep tunnels that pull your skin down,” explains Dr. Akhtar. “It almost causes a tent-like phenomenon where your skin will create ridges and then you’re left with these deep scars on your skin.”

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce scarring.

Get an early diagnosis

At the first sign of pimples or cysts on parts of your body where you grow hair (like your armpits, groin and buttocks), you should see your doctor. Although these may appear like normal acne, if they’re consistently popping up and normal acne treatments aren’t working, you should have them looked at. Left untreated, your cysts connect with each other and, if they continue to be inflamed, they can grow, develop pus and eventually break open. This is what causes scar tissue to form.


Keep your wounds clean and moisturized

If you have a broken cyst that produces discharge, blood or pus, make sure you keep the area clean and disinfected. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface, but try not to do this often because it can dry out your skin and cause further scarring. Aloe vera and other moisturizing creams and topical ointments are available to keep your skin from drying out. But the most important thing is to keep the surface of your skin clean. This will limit further infection until you can see your doctor for further treatment. And you should never pop them.

“Anything that’s oozing or having a discharge should be bandaged,” advises Dr. Akhtar. “You don’t want that discharge to touch other parts of the body because it can spread.”

More advanced treatment options

At a minimum, you should pay close attention to signs and symptoms and seek medical care at the earliest stages to avoid an increase in cysts and scar tissue. But there are other solutions you can use, too, with the help of a board-certified dermatologist.

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal reduces the number of hairs in one area across several treatments. By removing hair, you prevent infection and the initial clogging of pores that leads to inflammation and hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups.

“If we get rid of the hair, 30% of the problem is solved because that hair is not coming out and causing inflammation,” says Dr. Akhtar. “I recommend all patients who have hidradenitis suppurativa get laser hair removal.”


Steroid injections

Steroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation in an inflamed cyst. This is especially helpful if you’ve had a cyst break open because the inflammation doesn’t go away even when a cyst has been drained. By reducing inflammation, you reduce the potential for further cyst formation. You also decrease the pressure build-up that causes deep scars to form.

Laser surgery and excision

For severe hidradenitis suppurativa, there are surgical options. Removing the cysts, as well as the deep tunnels that connect them, allows your skin to fall flatter, reducing the severity of the scar tissue. This is helpful because those deep scars can sometimes cause problems with movement, including a feeling of tightness or pressure. You can also benefit from laser surgery to remove large areas of scar tissue that includes surface scars and deep, inflamed follicles.

Can you prevent hidradenitis suppurativa scars?

If you have hidradenitis suppurativa, scarring is inevitable. But you can reduce the severity of the scars that form by treating flare-ups as they happen early on.

“If you have a hole in a bucket that’s full of water, and you don’t patch that hole, the water will keep dripping and you will never have a bucket full of water,” says Dr. Akhtar. “We need to start treating the hidradenitis, and once the hidradenitis improves, some of the scarring or future scarring will improve to a certain degree.”

Related Articles

Different forms of benzoyl peroxide.
February 27, 2023
The Best Soap Products for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

The trick is to use products that reduce inflammation without causing irritation

A cutting board with sliced avocados, olive oil, nuts, salmon and leafy greens
May 22, 2022
Hidradenitis Suppurativa Diet: Foods To Eat and Avoid

Nutrition plays an important role in controlling this chronic inflammatory skin disease

Red, purple bumps on the surface of someone's skin.
May 11, 2022
Popping Hidradenitis Suppurativa? Bad Idea

Popping hidradenitis suppurativa cysts could lead to infection

various remedies for hidradenitis suppurativa, including fish, aloe and ginger
May 9, 2022
Hidradenitis Suppurativa Home Treatments and Natural Remedies

At-home natural remedies like turmeric and aloe vera can help alleviate symptoms

Closeup of dotted line indicating where eyelid lift will take place
February 14, 2024
Blepharoplasty vs. Brow Lift: What To Know

The procedures take different approaches to eliminate saggy, baggy skin around your eyes

jar of coconut oil-based cream next to a cut open coconut on a bath towel
February 9, 2024
Stop the Itch: Home Remedies To Help Manage Eczema

Colloidal oatmeal, petroleum jelly and other around-the-home products can help provide needed relief

stress factors floating around person with eczema on arms
February 8, 2024
Eczema and Stress: What’s the Connection?

Your body’s natural response to stress can lead to painful skin irritation

Smiling person holding small container of moisturizer close to face, with product applied to face
February 1, 2024
What Does Vitamin B5 Do for Your Hair and Skin?

Pantothenol is a powerful moisturizer and can help repair damaged skin and hair

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture