The most common symptoms are intense pain in breakout areas, hard boils and tender abscesses on skin, and under-skin channels between these which feed infected blood to one another.
Euphemized terms for the disease are "appocrine acne" and "acne inversa," since the smaller abscesses resemble just severe topical acne.
More complicated infections, usually involving underway channels sometimes referred to as "HS sinuses," lead to recurring reinfection and eventual "coming-to" of the wounds, which often explode or begin leaking infected blood, often accompanied with either hard balls or soft masses of pus, and blood clots. In some cases, fat cell tissue may also be disrupted and exit the wound along with the impurities. These advanced wounds often never fully heal, and healed tissue is often scar tissue that lasts a lifetime.
The disease is also known as "fox-den" and Velpeau's Disease.
It usually attacks women rather than men, but can be particularly embarrassing to men, leading in some cases to loss of social ambition and abnormal shyness or awkwardness in particular social situations. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic disorders and faulty sweat glands or hair follicles, though can also indicate a hormone imbalance. It is known to influence and be influenced by bouts of depression.
Because it does not thoroughly discriminate, but has a preference for the chest, HS can infect nearly all skin and sweat glands on the body. It often prefers areas with lots of skin-on-skin contact, leading to frequent leg and even genital breakouts, which may be confused by someone naive for an STD breakout.
While not caused by any virus and not being an STD, the genetic disorder that predisposes skin to HS is easily inherited. The appearance of the boils on the victim is often comparable to certain STD breakouts in terms of ugliness, which can serve as a considerable deterrent to sexual activity in some cases.
Breakouts range in size from having the diameter of a ballpoint pen to the diameter of a pinball to the diameter of a golf ball. In rare extremes, they may even grow to the diameter of a baseball.
There is no official cure, but several treatments are under investigation.
Guy: "Trust me, you don't wanna know what HS is doing to me!"
Girl: "HS? You, mean, you've got an STD?"
Guy: "No. Just a recurring skin and sweat gland infection. You won't get it; I just don't think you really care to see it, especially if it starts bleeding."
Girl: "Ew. I...think I'll hook up with somebody else, thank you very much..."