Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) has a substantial impact on patients’ lives. We identified factors associated with decreased quality of life (QoL) in patients with HS. Consecutive newly referred patients with HS attending a tertiary referral centre for HS were evaluated with the dermatology life quality index (DLQI). Clinical evaluation was performed according to the Hurley stage. Furthermore, disease duration, number of boils in the past month, boil-associated pain score, overall disease-related distress score, smoking status, employment status and comorbidities were recorded. A total of 339 patients with a mean age of 39.4 years were included; 218 (64.3%) females and 121 (35.7%) males. Of these, 96 (28.3%) had Hurley stage I, whereas 195 (57.5%) and 48 (14.2%) had Hurley II and III, respectively. The mean BMI was 29.0 (SD 7.1) kg/m2 and 75.2% of patients were current or former smokers. The mean overall DLQI score was 11.9 (SD 7.6). After mutual adjustment for clinical characteristics a significant difference in mean overall DLQI score was observed between severity groups (8.6 vs. 12.6 vs. 16.1, adjusted p < 0.001, for Hurley I, II and III, respectively), age group (12.1 vs. 12.1 vs. 12.5 vs. 7.1, adjusted p = 0.002, for ≤ 20, 21–40, 41–60 and > 60 years, respectively), employment status (11.0 vs. 14.6, adjusted p = 0.003, for employed and unemployed, respectively), presence of boils in the preceding month (8.3 vs. 13.6, adjusted p = 0.001, for no boils and presence of boils, respectively), higher overall disease-related distress score (6.3 vs. 13.9, adjusted p < 0.001, for low and high score, respectively), involvement of the groins (8.7 vs. 13.0, adjusted p = 0.035 for no and involvement, respectively), high number of anatomical regions involved (9.8 vs. 12.4 vs. 14.5, adjusted p = 0.007 for 0–1, 2 and ≥ 3 anatomical regions involved, respectively) and diabetes (11.5 vs. 15.2, adjusted p = 0.043, for no and diabetes, respectively). All ten individual DLQI question scores increased significantly with increasing Hurley stage. Patients with HS referred for specialized hospital care report substantial impact on the quality of life. Disease severity (Hurley stage), younger age, diabetes, recent and increasing disease activity and specific anogenital localization are major aggravating factors.