Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) causes breakouts that look like pimples or large boils. Because the condition affects your skin and the outbreaks sometimes cause an unpleasant odor, HS can make some people feel embarrassed, stressed, or ashamed.

HS often develops during puberty, which can be an emotionally vulnerable stage of life. Having the condition may negatively impact how you think about yourself and your body. A 2018 study on 46 people with HS found the condition significantly affected people’s body image.

Body image issues can lead to depression and anxiety, which are both common in people with HS. A 2019 literature review found that 17 percent of people with this condition experience depression, and nearly 5 percent experience anxiety.

Seeing a dermatologist and starting treatment is one way to feel better. While you treat physical symptoms of HS, it’s also important to consider your emotional health. Here are a few places to turn for support, and to help you deal with the most difficult aspects of living with a visible chronic illness.

HS is more common than you might think. About 1 in 100 people have HS, but it still may be difficult to find someone with the condition who lives close to you. Not knowing anyone else with HS may make you feel lonely and isolated.

A support group is a good place to connect with other people who have HS. In this safe space, you can share your stories without feeling embarrassed. You may also get helpful advice from people living with HS on how to manage the condition.

To find a support group to join, start by asking the doctor who treats your HS. Some larger hospitals may host one of these groups. If yours doesn’t, reach out to an HS organization.

Hope for HS is one of the main HS advocacy organizations. It started in 2013 as one local support group. Today, the organization has support groups in cities like Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Miami, and Minneapolis, as well as online.

If you don’t have an HS support group in your area, join one on Facebook. The social networking site has several active groups, including:

Sometimes the best support comes from people who know you best. Friends, family members, and even neighbors you trust can be good sounding boards when you’re frustrated or upset.

One 2016 study of people living with HS reported the social support of friends as the most popular way of coping. Just make sure you surround yourself with positive people. Anyone who doesn’t show up when you need them, or who makes you feel worse about yourself, isn’t worth having around.

The effects of HS can impact nearly every part of your life, including your self-esteem, relationships, sex life, and job. When the stress becomes too much to handle, reach out to a professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, or therapist.

Mental health specialists offer services like talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you reframe any negative thoughts you have about your condition. You may want to choose someone who has experience treating chronic diseases. Some therapists specialize in areas like relationships or sexual health.

If you suspect you might have depression, see a psychologist or a psychiatrist for an evaluation. A psychologist can offer different modalities of therapy to treat you, but in some states only a psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressants if you need them.

HS can have real effects on your emotional health. As you treat the outward symptoms, make sure you also get help for any psychological issues that arise, including depression and anxiety.