HSF News

Frequently Asked Questions about Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) and COVID-19

Updated April 6th, 2020

This content was generated from a podcast.


What is COVID-19, and how is it different from the flu or other infections we have dealt with?

• Coronaviruses are a large group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Mostly, COVID19
causes mild upper respiratory tract symptoms. Most morality occurs when the lower respiratory
tract is involved, with cytokine storm causing ARDS and shock.
• The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) occurs naturally, enters the body through respiratory
droplets (either inhaled or by touching mouths, nose, eyes) and causes the illness called COVID-
• Coronavirus enters the cells of the lung via ACE receptors.
• Coronavirus can survive in the air for up to 8 hours, and can last for up to 72 hours on some
• Coronavirus is structurally different from the influenza virus. Compared to the seasonal flu, the
novel coronavirus causes more severe illness and has higher death rates (estimated to be 10x
• Based on limited data, all age groups can contract COVID-19. However, some subsets of people
are at higher risk of severe illness or death than others, including:
o Adults over age 65 years
o Infants
o People with heart, lung or kidney disease
o People with cancer undergoing cancer treatment
o People on immunosuppressive medications
• Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of smell, loss of taste, and
uncommonly nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. However, many people infected with this virus can
harbor and spread infection without any symptoms.
• HS itself does not appear to be a specific risk factor for COVID-19. However, if someone has any
of the associated comorbidities listed above or is on immunosuppressive medications, they may
have increased risk for developing severe illness if infected with the novel coronavirus.

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Grants & Scholarships

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation Danby Research Grants

For the past four years, the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation (HSF) has proudly sponsored up to $10,000 for research projects that will have a sustained, powerful influence on our understanding of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). This competitive grants program is named after Dr. William “Bill” Danby (1943-2016), a curious and dedicated dermatologist who developed what was probably the first specialty Hidradenitis Suppurativa practice in the US. Dr. Danby was a past-president of the HSF (2014-2015) and was very involved in educating other dermatologists and health care providers about HS.

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The Hidden, Common Disease You’ve Never Heard Of

In today’s informed and connected world, it’s hard to believe there might be common diseases that you have never heard of. Everyone knows about migraine, psoriasis, and erectile dysfunction, thanks to the numerous adds on TV for new treatments for these conditions. And if diagnosed with a type of cancer, an online search can tell you where to turn for treatment and advice. But what if you had a painful skin disease that takes up to a dozen years to diagnose and is difficult to say and spell? That’s a huge marketing obstacle.

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Research Summary

Is COVID more risky for people treated for an immune disease?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a condition caused by an over-active immune system and many of the treatments influence the immune system. At the start of the COVID pandemic, many people were taking medicines, like injected shots, for HS, psoriasis or other conditions. In the beginning there weren’t a lot of studies showing the benefits and risks of the treatments. In a new study led by Dr. Rebecca Haberman of New York University and published April 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of doctors studied whether people being treated for immune diseases had more severe COVID.

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Global Registry for Hidradenitis Suppurativa + COVID-19

International HS experts have recently established the Global HS COVID-19 Registry to better understand the risk of infection and clinical course, track outcomes, and inform treatments of pediatric and adult HS patients in the setting of COVID-19. HS clinicians worldwide are encouraged to report ALL cases of COVID-19 in HS patients, regardless of severity – including asymptomatic patients detected through public health screenings.

Patients may also contribute to the Registry.

Information about the Registry as well as a link to report cases can be found at http://hscovid.ucsf.edu.

The success of this global collaborative effort depends on active participation by providers who care for HS patients, so broad sharing of the registry with colleagues treating HS patients is encouraged.

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Research Summary

New drug shows promise for Hidradenitis Suppurativa treatment

An early study for a new injectable treatment shows improvement in Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) activity and pain scores while demonstrating safety. Dr. Alice Gottlieb of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York led the research investigating the results of bermekimab use in 42 patients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. The results were recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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