Hidradenitis Suppurativa vs. Herpes: How to Tell the Difference

Inflammatory groyne bumps are a common symptom of two different skin conditions: herpes simplex virus (HSV) and hidradenitis suppurative (HS). HSV breakouts can also happen in the armpits or other places where the skin scrapes against one another.

HSV is a virus that can occasionally create outbreaks, usually on the lips, groyne, or anus, or it can cause no symptoms at all.

A chronic inflammatory skin disease, HS usually manifests as recurrent breakouts on the groyne, armpits, in the space between the thighs, between the buttocks, or any other location where skin rubs against the skin.

Both conditions are treatable even though there isn't a treatment yet.

It's critical to recognise the distinctions between the situations because they can be mistaken for one another and even occur simultaneously. Here are some further details on their manifestation.

What is the difference between herpes and hidradenitis suppurativa?

HS is an inflammatory illness that appears to be linked to heredity and immune system issues. It is made worse by things like smoking and obesity.

The virus known as HSV is contracted by direct skin-to-skin contact.

It's also important to remember that herpes is far more prevalent overall. Approximately 13% of adults (ages 15–49) have genital (type 2) herpes, while 1% of persons have HS.

Even though type 1 or oral herpes is more common than type 2, HS is not likely to be confused with it. It is uncommon to have HS near the mouth.

Can you have HS and HSV at the same time?

It is feasible to have both HSV and HS concurrently. Research from 2018 indicates that having HS increases your risk of developing herpes and other disorders that impact the hair follicles.

Acne, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, and depression are some prevalent comorbidities of HS.

Symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa vs. herpes

HS flares consist of:
  • medium-sized clusters, uncomfortable abscesses, or pus-filled pimples under the skin
  • "tunnelling" beneath the skin, where abscesses form tunnel-shaped cavities
  • skin that is red, puffy, scarred, or otherwise inflammatory due to recurrent breakouts
  • skin irritations in areas where skin rubs against one another, such as the inner thighs, groyne, armpits, beneath the breasts, or between the buttocks
The following are the types of outbreaks of herpes, even though the majority are asymptomatic and go undiagnosed:
  • clusters of tiny, hurtful pus-filled pimples or abscesses under the skin and mucous membranes
  • lumps that are usually found on the genitalia, mouth, or anus
Unless the pimples burst, herpes outbreaks are less likely to leave scars and create widespread redness.

With time, these symptoms frequently resurface.

Causes of hidradenitis suppurativa vs. herpes

We don't know the precise cause of HS. However, researchers think it's related to an immune system problem with inflammation surrounding the hair follicles in sweat gland locations (such as the groyne or armpits).

The following variables appear to raise your risk of having HS:
  • obesity
  • smoking tobacco
  • friction of clogged hair follicles
  • genetics (family history is a known factor)
  • hormonal changes
  • older age
HSV is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (oral) or type 2 (genital). Direct contact with contaminated skin, mucous membranes, or body fluids causes transmission.

The following are some things that make getting herpes more likely:
  • multiple sexual partners
  • a weakened immune system
  • sexual interaction without the use of barriers
  • stress or fatigue

Next steps

See your physician or the closest clinic if you suspect you may have HS or HSV. A herpes infection can be identified or ruled out using a blood test. Although HS is more difficult to detect, it can be found using techniques like lab testing and lifestyle questionnaires.

Herpes is communicable, thus it's crucial to see a doctor before you might transfer it.

Your doctor can suggest treatment choices for either problem, which may involve prescription drugs, good personal cleanliness, or lifestyle modifications. If you have HS, surgery can be advised.


Herpes and HS are two distinct skin disorders that share similar symptoms, such as inflammatory pimples between the buttocks or in the groyne area.

HS breakouts also usually happen in areas where skin scrapes against one another, such as the inner thighs or armpits.

HS is a chronic inflammatory illness linked to genetics and immune system dysfunction. Herpes virus is the cause.

Either issue could negatively impact your daily quality of life if left untreated. You should see a doctor if you think you might have herpes or HS as both conditions are curable.


How can you tell the difference between herpes and HS?

Those with herpes may get a fever, swelling lymph nodes, and muscle aches in addition to crusty or pus-filled blisters. The armpits, buttocks, breasts, and genitalia are among the places where the skin rubs together and where HS symptoms first appear.

How do you confirm hidradenitis suppurativa?

Examining the skin for boils in locations that are characteristic of the disease

Can boils be mistaken for herpes?

Pus suggests boils; blisters suggest herpes

Are herpes hard or soft bumps?

Herpes blisters may be larger, softer, and painful

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