Ask the Advocate: Wound Care & Home Remedies
Managing hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) wounds can be challenging. What might work for one HS warrior might not work for another. It is a balancing act that takes patience, perseverance, and hours of research. We asked our advocates about their wound care routines, what products work (and do not work) for them, and how they first learned about wound care. Here is what they had to say:
What is your wound care routine/technique?
Rebecca: Depending on how bad the flare is, I usually try to leave the wound to heal naturally. If it's particularly bad, I would apply some antibiotic cream from my doctor to some non-woven gauze and place it over the wound. This usually helps the healing process go smoothly. I try not to use plasters too much as they can irritate the skin around the flare.
How did you learn about wound care?
Katy: I learned about wound care the hard way – through recovery from several skin surgeries for HS. After my first surgery, my parents and I were fairly clueless when it came to wound care, and I would cry every night when trying to take off my dressings. After my second surgery, my doctor referred me to this amazing place called a wound care clinic! HUGE help. This is when I learned you could put barriers on your skin to protect it from adhesive before dressing a wound and adhesive remover wipes to painlessly take off bandages. That was a life-changer in my HS world.
When I was recovering from my largest surgery though, I had assistance from home healthcare nurses. I learned a lot about wound care from them. I learned about wet-to-dry techniques and packing a wound. This is when I learned about different types of dressing as we probably bought all of them to deal with my wounds. Even knowing all of this, I still mostly let my HS wounds heal on their own without dressings. Adhesives can be really hard on the skin, even with skin barriers. And there are benefits to letting wounds and skin breathe without bandages.
Rebecca: I learned about wound care through others on Instagram. I was never really given much information by the doctors, so I am so grateful for the community of HS warriors willing to share their tips and tricks! I would be clueless if it wasn't for them!
Selina: Honestly, trial and error and searching through the #hidradenitis hashtags on Instagram helped me most with my wound care. Hidradenitis is so difficult because it's not one-rule-fits-all. Browsing through hashtags and seeing people first-hand really helped me. No one knows about the disease better than the people who actually live and deal with it on a daily basis. I've been able to see new suggestions for products, how to wrap a wound a certain way, or even simple tips and tricks that can help if you don't have gauze or tape readily available. I really will forever be grateful that I saw posts about sticking panty liners in my sleeves or that paper tape might hurt a little less than the regular medical tape. The hidradenitis community really has each other's backs when it comes to giving helpful advice.
I'm not on Facebook, but my mom has joined some hidradenitis Facebook groups that post great advice on wound care and remedies. She is always looking to help me when I'm flaring, so she's joined groups to try and learn more about HS and see product recommendations and such. She texts me all the time about different things that people are recommending, and it is so helpful. The hidradenitis community is seriously so strong, and I'll forever be grateful for these people who have to live with such a horrible disease. I'm truly so sorry you have it, but it makes me feel so much better knowing we're going through this together and we're all here for each other.
What is your go-to home remedy for managing a flare? What have you tried that you will never use again?
Rebecca: Personally, I adore Vicks vapor rub to put on a flare. I cover it with gauze or plaster, and it usually brings my boils/abscesses to a head and allows them to drain naturally. This also helps significantly with the pain. I also love putting a hot compress on a flare. For me, it usually brings it to a head and allows it to drain. My favorite home remedy for flares in the groin/thigh/buttocks is an Epsom salt bath. If I have a really stubborn flare that won't open, I would take several baths a day, and it usually does the trick for me.
I have tried a traditional bread poultice, and for me, it didn't work at all. The smell was quite off-putting, but I've heard it works for others!
Do you want to share how HS has impacted your life?