Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) has a significant impact on the wellbeing of people living with the condition, the National Health Service (NHS), and broader society, but HS and its range of impacts are not well recognised. In this report, we seek to identify and quantify the humanistic and socioeconomic burdens of HS in the United Kingdom. We shed light on different dimensions of HS, including its impact on individuals and families, and the healthcare system, as well as the broader societal consequences of this poorly understood and often misunderstood condition.
People living with HS experience a major impact on their quality of life, with physical pain, poor mental health, and social isolation among the biggest burdens. Wound management incurs considerable costs in terms of time and money, with most patients requiring 1–3 dressing changes per day. HS also impacts social and intimate relationships, education, and employment prospects.
A relative lack of awareness among affected people and physicians can lead to delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses, meaning that many patients are exhibiting moderate to severe disease by the time they get diagnosed. HS is also associated with a range of comorbidities, the most prevalent of which include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. Furthermore, there is a shortage of dermatologists, specialist nurses and psychodermatology practitioners in the NHS. This combination of factors leads to avoidable burdens for the NHS and people with HS, in terms of direct healthcare costs and health outcomes.
We propose three recommendations to improve life for people living with HS and lessen the burden on the NHS and wider society based on our research and input from our patient and clinician focus group.