Acne inversa is a recurrent, suppurative disease manifested by abscesses, fistulas, and scarring. Once considered to be a disease of the apocrine glands, it is actually a defect of follicular epithelium. Thus, the term hidradenitis suppurativa is a misnomer and should be abandoned. In cases of familial acne inversa, the pattern of transmission and number of affected individuals are consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance. Aetiological factors such as hyperandrogenism, obesity, smoking and chemical irritants are not consistently associated with the affection. Bacterial involvement is not a primary event in acne inversa, but is secondary to the disease process. Potential complications include dermal contraction, local or systemic infection due to the spread of microorganisms, systemic amyloidosis, arthropathy, and squamous cell carcinoma. As spontaneous resolution is rare and progressive disability is the rule, early definitive surgical intervention is advisable. The surgical procedure of choice in most cases is wide local excision and healing by secondary intention. Pharmacotherapeutic drugs, including synthetic retinoids and antiandrogens, do not prevent progression of the disease.