Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS; also designated as acne inversa) is a chronic inflammatory disorder, which affects the intertriginous skin and is associated with numerous systemic comorbidities. The estimated prevalence of HS is ~1% in most studied countries. Typically starting in early adulthood, cutaneous inflamed nodules, abscesses and pus-discharging tunnels develop in axillary, inguinal, gluteal and perianal body sites. The comorbidities of HS include metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, which contribute to reduced life expectancy. A genetic predisposition, smoking, obesity and hormonal factors are established aetiological factors for HS. Cutaneous changes seem to start around hair follicles and involve activation of cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems, with pivotal roles for pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor, IL-1β and IL-17. The unrestricted and chronic immune response eventually leads to severe pain, pus discharge, irreversible tissue destruction and scar development. HS has profound negative effects on patients' quality of life, which often culminate in social withdrawal, unemployment, depression and suicidal thoughts. The therapeutic options for HS comprise antibiotic treatment, neutralization of tumour necrosis factor and surgical intervention together with lifestyle modification. Nevertheless, there is an enormous need for awareness of HS, understanding of its pathogenesis and novel treatments.