There is weak evidence that infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could worsen symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). However, further research is necessary.

The COVID-19 vaccine seems to have little to no effect on HS or HS medication.

This article takes a detailed look at HS and COVID-19. It discusses the potential impact of COVID-19 on HS activity and whether HS is a risk factor for contracting SARS-CoV-2.

It also details the links between HS medications and COVID-19 vaccines.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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HS is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. As a 2022 review explains, people with HS develop a variety of lesions on their skin. These lesions, which can sometimes be painful, include nodules, abscesses, and drainage tract.

There is no evidence that having HS means that people are more or less likely to contract SARS-CoV-2 or develop COVID-19.

Is HS a risk factor for COVID-19?

HS is not a risk factor for developing COVID-19. There is no evidence that people with HS have an elevated risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2.

However, some risk factors for HS are also risk factors for more severe COVID-19.

For example, smoking and obesity are risk factors for developing HS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classify these HS risk factors as having associations with more severe COVID-19.

Researchers indicate an elevated risk of serious symptoms or complications from COVID-19, in theory. However, this is not necessarily the case.

A 2021 study compared the medical records of roughly 5,000 people with COVID-19, with half of these individuals having HS. When it came to serious, short-term outcomes of COVID-19, the study authors found no substantial differences between the groups.

However, more research is necessary on this topic. For instance, the study did not look at the long-term outcomes of COVID-19.

Scientists may have observed a connection between COVID-19 and HS activity. In particular, it looks like some people might experience worse symptoms of HS if they have COVID-19.

A 2022 study interviewed 16 people with HS and COVID-19. Three of these individuals reported significantly worsened HS symptoms. They involved the formation of new nodules and drainage.

Although suggestive, these findings come from weak evidence because the sample size for this study was very small.

As such, scientists remain unsure about the possible relationship between COVID-19 and HS activity.

The 2021 study also looked at the possible effects of HS treatment on COVID-19 outcomes.

The study authors considered people taking antibiotics or tumor necrosis factor inhibitors for HS. In either case, the individuals had been using these medications for 1 year.

These individuals were not at greater risk of developing COVID-19 complications.

There is evidence that some people with HS avoided getting the COVID-19 vaccination, fearing it would worsen their HS symptoms.

However, there is little reason to believe that COVID-19 vaccination worsens HS.

A 2022 paper discusses five individuals who experienced worse symptoms of HS after getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

However, the authors also interviewed 207 people who have HS. All had received the vaccine, and none experienced worsening HS symptoms after getting it.

Should a person stop taking their biologic medication if they want the vaccine?

Adalimumab is a biologic medication that treats HS. Because it is an immunosuppressant, some people with HS may worry about taking adalimumab around the time of getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

Scientists are still investigating the link between biologics and COVID-19 vaccination. However, a recent study suggests that adalimumab makes little difference to the vaccination process.

If people have concerns about how their medication will affect the vaccine or vice versa, they can speak with a doctor.

HS and COVID-19 are very different conditions. There is weak evidence that COVID-19 might worsen symptoms of HS.

Despite sharing some risk factors, there is also no reason to believe that having HS is a risk factor for contracting SARS-CoV-2 or developing COVID-19.

HS treatments do not seem to affect the severity of COVID-19. There is also little reason to believe that HS treatments compromise COVID-19 vaccines.