What to Know About Steroids for Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

Oral and topical corticosteroids are occasionally recommended to treat hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)-related discomfort and inflammation. However, using steroids has negative effects and is usually only advised temporarily.

Chronic HS can lead to painful lesions, especially under the armpits or other areas where the skin rubs against one another. Even though HS has no known treatment, there are several strategies to help manage the illness.

Here's what you should know about possible side effects and insurance coverage choices when using steroids to treat HS.

What steroids are used to treat hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)?

Although the first line of treatment for HS is usually antibiotics, a growing body of data is supporting the use of corticosteroids to lessen symptoms.

However, 2021 research indicates that steroids are usually not a viable long-term therapy due to side effects and withdrawal flare-ups.

The following are the primary steroid kinds used to treat HS:
  • Topical: Clobetasol and betamethasone are two of the many lotions, ointments, or gels that can be administered straight to lesions. These are typically meant to be used temporarily.
  • Oral: It is also possible to give additional oral steroids, such as methylprednisolone and prednisolone.
  • Injections: It is possible to inject steroids such as betamethasone, acetonide, and triamcinolone directly into the afflicted areas. In one 2017 trial, patients who received triamcinolone injections reported less pain after one day and less inflammation after a week. Researchers concluded that steroid injections were successful in reducing lesion count, inflammation, and symptoms in the majority of patients after reviewing multiple trials in 2022.

Possible side effects or interactions with steroids

In the short term, corticosteroids are usually thought to be safe for use in HS patients. However negative effects are possible with both oral and topical steroids.

Among the possible adverse effects of oral steroids are:
  • weight gain
  • poor sleep quality
  • risk of infection
  • steroid tolerance
  • mood swings
Possible negative effects of topical steroids include:
  • skin thinning (when applied in high dosages)
  • skin irritation
  • acne
  • redness
These therapies may become less effective over time and may not be advised for long-term use since the skin can get tolerant to steroids with time. Some patients may not be able to utilise steroids regularly due to undesirable side effects.

Cost and coverage for steroid treatments

Steroid therapies for HS can have a wide range of costs and insurance coverage. Even out of pocket, topical steroids are typically less expensive. In general, injectables and oral medications will cost more.

When corticosteroids are medically required, the majority of insurance plans in the US will either fully or partially cover them, especially generic versions.

You still have choices if you don't have insurance. You might be able to get the assistance you require from sliding-scale clinics, health centres, and free or inexpensive clinics.

RxAssist offers solutions for Americans who don't have insurance or can't afford their prescription drugs in the country. Visit benefits.gov to see if you qualify for Medicaid or any other kind of assistance in your state.

What is the best treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa?

The ideal course of treatment for HS is still up in the air because every case is unique and research is continuously being done.

Having said that, oral antibiotics such as minocycline or doxycycline are usually the first line of treatment for HS. Corticosteroids are occasionally used in conjunction with this therapy.

To prevent unfavourable side effects, physicians usually advise against using steroids and antibiotics for an extended period. Prednisone is one example of an oral antibiotic that is expressly advised only in cases of severe inflammation because of the potential for infection and adverse effects.

For HS, biologic therapy is an additional popular and successful treatment.

Additionally, there is some less conclusive data in favour of light therapy for HS, particularly when paired with steroids.

Surgery could be the best course of action in cases of extremely severe HS to eliminate uncomfortable lesions. You can find out which course of action is best for your particular problem by speaking with your doctor.


In the short term, steroids could be advised to lessen HS-related discomfort and inflammation. Long-term use, however, may be hindered by adverse effects and steroid resistance.

In addition, light therapy, surgery, and antibiotics are available for the treatment of HS. Even though there isn't yet a therapy for HS, you and your doctor can come up with a plan to help you live a better, more fulfilled life. You have choices if you can't get access to healthcare.


Can I stop HS from progressing?

Treatment may include certain medicines, such as antibiotics, and surgery.

Can HS go away completely?

HS cannot be cured

How do I cure my hidradenitis?

There's no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa

Does hidradenitis go away with age?

It can persist for many years and worsen over time.

What happens if HS is left untreated?

it can grow deeper into the tissue and over time can lead to painful fluid-filled lumps or thick scars.

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