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Allopathic and Holistic and Homeopathic, Oh My! How I Use All Forms Of Medicine To Help My HS (Part 2)

In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series!

Holistic care is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.” Holistic care also often utilizes homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, which I will go into more detail about in the second part of this series. I personally find holistic care to be one of the most effective treatment plans for my Hidradenitis Suppurativa, as I have not had great success with allopathic treatments such as antibiotics or surgical procedures. Now, this is not to say YOU won’t, and you should always work closely with a team of medical professionals wherever possible and accessible for you, but I wanted to shed some light on the other types of treatment available for HS patients so that the community has as much well-rounded information as possible so that we can all make educated and informed choices about what might be right for us.

A holistic approach to treatment

Dr. Ginette Okoye presented at the 2020 Skin of Color Virtual Update and discussed the fact that no truly effective monotherapy (therapy that uses one type of treatment, such as radiation therapy or surgery alone, to treat a certain disease or condition. In drug therapy, monotherapy refers to the use of a single drug to treat a disease or condition, as per cancer.gov) exists for HS, and this requires doctors and specialists that are treating HS patients to consider a more holistic approach.

As summarized by nextstepsinderm.com, Dr. Okoye said that her treatment strategy formed a “stepwise ladder” focusing on a more holistic approach to the patients that includes incorporating wound care, lifestyle modification, and psychosocial support in addition to medical and surgical management. She emphasized a “layer and rotate” approach to treatment - this means that it usually takes quite a few different forms of treatment to successfully manage HS in most patients (layering care) and pivoting between holistic and allopathic treatments to ensure a higher quality of life for those that live with HS.

What does a holistic approach for HS look like?

Now, what does a holistic approach for HS look like? For most people it includes lifestyle management strategies such as dietary restrictions, using more natural body products such as tea tree soap or African black soap, modifying exercise to be skincare friendly, and treating the whole person rather than just the HS itself!

Holistic care recognizes that every patient and body is different and will require different care rather than a one size fits all solution. For instance, some people need to follow very strict diets eliminating sugar, nightshades, and dairy, where others don’t have any food triggers at all. Psychological care, or mental health support, is also a large piece of holistic care. Ensuring someone has a support system to rely on when times get tough, whether that be mental health professionals such as a therapist or social worker or the general care practitioner providing a space to discuss and treat emotional concerns, is a huge piece of holistic care. Stress can be a big trigger for people with HS, and a holistic approach recognizes how difficult it can be to manage stress and stress symptoms without support.

Finding a doctor who takes a holistic approach is not always easy and will take some trial and error, but once you do it can be a monumental improvement in the care you receive! Stay tuned for a more in-depth explanation of homeopathic and naturopathic care, which are two tools the holistic approach utilizes to great effect!

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