Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is an inflammatory skin condition, where the body attacks hair follicles. Certain chemical peel ingredients may help improve HS symptoms, but more research is necessary.

A person living with the condition may experience lumps, bumps, and abscesses on their skin.

Symptoms of HS begin in the follicles but can spread to other parts of the skin. The condition is not contagious. Healthcare professionals do not know exactly what causes HS, but hormones, genes, and environmental factors may contribute to its development.

The goal of HS treatment is to prevent its progression and treat any active lesions on the skin.

Read on to learn more about chemical peels and other treatments for HS.

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According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), resorcinol, an ingredient in some chemical peels, can help reduce symptoms of HS. It may help reduce inflammation and open blocked hair follicles.

A 2022 retrospective study found that resorcinol outperformed clindamycin — a type of antibiotic — in pain reduction, HS severity, and clinical response.

The authors note that resorcinol could be an excellent alternative treatment option, especially as antibiotic resistance is increasing. However, this was a relatively small study based on 134 people with HS.

Research into other chemical peel ingredients for HS is limited.

People should always speak with a healthcare professional before using any chemical peels to help treat HS symptoms.

A 2019 study highlights that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of many topical treatments for HS, which include certain chemical peel ingredients.

However, this section lists some ingredients in chemical peels that people with HS may wish to try with a doctor’s guidance.


People have used resorcinol since the 19th century as a chemical peel. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As time went on, researchers noted it was effective at treating abscesses. This in turn resulted in doctors suggesting resorcinol as a treatment for HS.

According to the AAD, healthcare professionals may recommend resorcinol for individuals living with mild to moderate HS.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). BHAs may help reduce skin inflammation and are antimicrobial. Because of these properties, people with acne tend to use salicylic acid to reduce their symptoms.

However, while some people suggest salicylic acid as a treatment for HS, there is not enough evidence to support its effectiveness.

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). AHAs can help smooth fine lines and wrinkles as they exfoliate the skin. These acids may also help unblock pores. For this reason, some people choose to use AHAs when they have acne.

However, there is not enough evidence to suggest glycolic acid peels are an effective treatment for HS.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Generally, doctors suggest azelaic acid creams and ointments for acne.

However, there is a lack of research to suggest that azelaic acid can effectively treat HS.

Because chemical peels remove the damaged surface layer of skin, they can cause some mild side effects, such as inflammation and swelling, which usually resolves within a few days or a week depending on the strength of the peel.

However, more serious complications of a peel include:

A person should speak with a healthcare professional before using any chemical peels to ensure they are using them correctly and performing appropriate aftercare measures. Doctors may advise that after a chemical peel, someone should:

  • take measures to protect their skin from sun exposure
  • not pick their skin
  • keep the chemically peeled areas of the skin cool using a water spray
  • moisturize their skin

The treatment of HS depends on how severe it is.

The first-line treatment for HS is topical antibiotics, especially for mild to moderate symptoms. Topical means a person directly applies an antibiotic cream or ointment to the skin. As HS progresses, though, a person may need to take oral antibiotics and receive additional treatments.

For mild to moderate symptoms, a doctor may suggest combining lifestyle changes with medications.

Lifestyle changes include:

Medications include:

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved adalimumab for HS. This drug is a biologic. These medications can reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Other treatments that may alleviate symptoms include laser hair removal and surgery to remove the lesions.

Surgical procedures include:

  • Deroofing: A surgeon removes the skin covering an active abscess.
  • Wide excision: A dermatologist removes a lesion and deeper skin damage.
  • Laser surgery: Laser surgery can vaporize HS, though a person may need to take medication before this.

Doctors may recommend a person try using a resorcinol chemical peel for hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Because resorcinol has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it may help reduce HS symptoms.

Research into the efficacy of other chemical peel ingredients for treating HS is limited. However, a person with HS may wish to speak with a healthcare professional about whether other chemical peel types may be suitable for them.

People should always speak with a doctor before using a chemical peel to ensure they are using the peel correctly and performing the appropriate aftercare measures. A healthcare professional can also recommend other treatments for HS, including lifestyle changes, other medications, and surgery.