How Does HS Impact Relationships?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2020

It may take some time before getting the diagnosis of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Finally getting an answer after months or even years may seem like a big relief. But then what?

A new medical diagnosis can be scary. A diagnosis of HS can make anyone scared, emotional, sad, or angry. Chronic disease can lead to changes in relationships, but what do these changes look like?

Everyone is different, and relationships vary from person to person. What is universal is that HS can have an impact on all relationships. Knowing what the impact of HS has on these different relationships will help you support, maintain, and grow them.

Intimate relationships

An intimate partner may have a wide range of emotions when learning about the diagnosis of their loved one. Partners can be worried about pain levels of their loved one, what the diagnosis means for the future, possible complications, and much more.

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HS may also have an impact on sexual health. The stigma of the disease and the appearance of the wounds leads contributes to this.1

Partners can support their loved one with HS in many ways. Learning more about HS, its symptoms, treatments, and complications will give you more knowledge to help support your loved one.

Having discussions about HS may be difficult. Talk openly and honestly with your partner. If you have questions, ask them. Talking frankly without fear will help make you feel more comfortable over time.

Consider joining a support group for intimate partners. Whether in person or online, these forums allow you to develop a sense of community and relate to others in the same situation.

Friends and family

The visible wounds of HS can be embarrassing and cause your loved one deep emotional distress. This may cause your loved one to feel socially isolated. The location of the wounds caused by HS may make it hard for your loved one to move freely. This may slow them down or make them want to decrease their physical activity.

Some of these things may be hard to understand. It is important to know that HS is not contagious. Even though you cannot take the pain away from your friend or family member, you can provide the emotional support needed.2

There are other things you can do. Living a healthy lifestyle is important for your loved one to manage their HS symptoms. Modeling healthy behaviors is a good first step. Additionally, you can help by:2

  • Encouraging your loved one to quit smoking
  • Participating in physical activity with your loved one when they are able
  • Encouraging healthy eating habits

Having a loved one with HS is not easy. You can make a difference in how your loved one feels and manages their symptoms. Find your community and support your friend, family member, or intimate partner as best as you can.