Background  Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic recurrent inflammatory skin disease with abscess formation and scarring predominantly in the inverse areas. The disease is often difficult to treat and patients experience a decreased quality of life (QoL). It is hypothesized that depression is more common in HS patients than among other dermatological patients.

Objectives  To evaluate the prevalence of depression in patients with HS.

Methods  In total 211 HS patients were included in the study and 233 were dermatological control patients. Their QoL and depression scores were assessed using the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) and the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) questionnaires. HS severity was recorded with a questionnaire and Hurley stages were extracted from the case records.

Results  The DLQI was significantly higher for HS patients than for the control patients, 8.4 ± 7.5 vs. 4.3 ± 5.6 (P < 0.0001) and correlated with Hurley stage severity scores. Mean MDI scores were significantly higher for HS patients, 11.0 vs. 7.2 (P < 0.0001). However, clinically defined depression rates according to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD-10) criteria were not significantly higher in HS patients compared to controls (9% vs. 6%).

Conclusions  HS is a chronic skin disease with major impact on QoL even when compared to other dermatological diseases. MDI scores in HS patients correlate with disease severity. This correlation could indicate that the MDI represents a valid measure of disease related morbidity that may serve as an outcome measure in future studies and a relevant point of intervention for individual patients.