Three Ways to Feel Sexy with Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Because of the nature of Hidradenitis Suppurativa, whether you identify as a man or a woman in stage I, II, or III, issues with self-esteem can and probably will arise. This is due to the chronic boils, cysts, open wounds, scar tissue, drainage, putrid smell, and oftentimes mind-numbing pain associated with HS. Not every patient struggles with feeling sexy, but I know I have.
Throughout my journey, I've struggled with seeing myself as desirable romantically and sexually. I've thought to myself, "How could anyone love someone who looks like me?" Rather than accept these feelings as my ultimate truth, I came up with a list of three things patients like me can do to embrace their inner sexy.
Who taught you to hate yourself?
Understanding who has influenced you to think the way you do can help to pinpoint why you feel the way you do about yourself and others. I often ask myself if my opinion about my body is based on societal programming or my unfettered opinion. After sitting with this for a while I realized the beauty constructs I've adopted as my truth derive from the mass media, movies, social media, and TV I've consumed over my lifetime.
Once I identified the root of the issue, it was time to grab the RoundUp and kill the weeds. I personally believe unlearning and relearning beauty standards takes a lifetime because the only thing constant is change and as we change so do our ideals. It's not a race though, it's a marathon.
To begin healing I set goals with my therapist regarding how I want to feel about myself and treat myself. This enables me to integrate steps to accomplishing these goals in my everyday life. This could be through therapy, affirmations, journaling, etc. Each day we heal our inner child and define what sexy means to us based on our own tastes and not through the influence of others.
Pamper yourself! Sexy is who you are not what you buy
Pampering myself can be a struggle because I battle with chronic depression and anxiety. There can be long periods of time where I don't take care of myself physically, however, getting my pain and inflammation under control has helped combat this tremendously. We'll get into that in the next step. Pampering yourself slightly contradicts my next statement but pampering yourself is self-care rather than a thing you do to make yourself sexy.
A self-care day can range from putting on a face mask to painting your nails to soaking your feet or taking a bath and everything in between. Think about what you like to do to relax. Pampering ourselves can put us in a sexy mindset because we've taken the time to assess our own needs and address them. But sexiness isn't about what you buy, it's about who you are. It's a mood and emotion you embrace. It's not dependent on how your body looks. Sexy is subjective.
Pain and inflammation management
Believe it or not, inflammation severely impacts whether I am in a good mood or not. When a new boil appears the last thing I'm thinking about is feeling sexy or desirable because of the pain surging through my body and skin. I've noticed when I'm not inflamed focusing on self-care is easier. It's still not a walk in the park, but it makes the task less daunting physically.
Managing pain and inflammation is different for everybody, but I've used pain medications like Aleve, CBD oil, and Rick Simpson Oil to make the pain subside. As for the drainage, I use gauze and Medipore tape to hold it in place. A great brand revolutionizing wound care for HS patients is HidraMed Solutions. This is another way to manage inflammation. The Mama Au is another company creating natural products for hs patients. I use their manuka honey salve for instant relief from itching, burning, or swelling. It's not bulletproof but I know I am doing everything that I can and so are you. Take comfort in that and leave everything else at the door.
How has your HS affected your relationships with friends and family?