Managing Your Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2020

Managing your symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) on a daily basis may seem overwhelming at first. Since HS has no cure, you may feel that HS cannot be managed. This is not true. There is a range of symptoms experienced, and developing a daily management routine of HS may help with your individual symptoms.

What should I wear?

You may not think that your choice of clothing matters when it comes to managing your HS. The reality is, undergarment and clothing selection are often overlooked when managing HS. Clothing that rubs against your skin can irritate it and make your condition worse. Choose breathable, absorbent fabrics and loose-fitting clothing. This helps to reduce bacteria growth when you sweat and also will help reduce odors and rubbing.1

What about hygiene?

One of the popular myths about HS is that it is caused by poor hygiene. Not only is this completely false, it is damaging and harmful to those with HS. There are some hygiene tips to keep in mind when talking about managing your HS. Antibacterial soap and topical antiseptics may be recommended or prescribed by your doctor. These will help eliminate and prevent the bacteria growth.

You may be curious about different cleansers or essential oils. Be sure to talk to your doctor before using these to make sure they will work well for your plan of care.2

How do I choose a deodorant?

The use of various deodorants and talc powders have been a theory for the cause of HS. These are not supported by data and are not considered true.

It is important to choose a deodorant that is non-irritating and will not worsen the inflammation of the HS sores on your skin. Some people make their own deodorant using essential oils such as lavender or tea tree oil. Your doctor may have a good suggestion for a deodorant for your skin.2

Shaving, waxing, or laser hair removal: which is best?

Shaving and waxing where you have sores or a breakout will further irritate your skin. Some people with HS use electric clippers to trim underarm hair instead of using a razor.

For a more long-term hair removal technique, laser hair removal may be an option with additional benefits. Some studies have shown that using laser hair removal improves the appearance of the HS lesions in addition to removing hair. This may be an option for you. Have a conversation with your doctor about your symptoms and whether you would be a good candidate for this.3

Does laundry soap matter?

Because HS can be worsened by increased irritation, you should try to find a laundry soap with no dyes or fragrances. These additives increase irritation and can worsen your condition.

How should I care for my wounds?

Developing care of the wounds associated with HS will help to prevent infection and may help manage some of the pain you have. When caring for the wounds:2

  • Keep your wounds clean as best as you can
  • Using petroleum jelly may help keep the wound moist and avoid scabbing
  • Your doctor will give you details on wound care instructions best for you

What about exercise?

There is no denying that exercise has many benefits. In HS, exercise can help manage your symptoms:2

  • Exercising and staying active will help you keep your weight down and may decrease your symptoms
  • Exercise will also help you feel better in general and improve your self-esteem
  • Remember to talk to your doctor about the choice of activity that is best for you

While managing your HS symptoms on a daily basis may seem overwhelming, these steps may help you get there faster. Remember to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and do your best to keep your appointments. Together, you and your doctor can address the daily management of your HS symptoms.

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