Supporting a Loved One with HS

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

Has your loved one recently told you about hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)? Having that conversation with you was likely not an easy one. Your loved one trusts you enough to confide in you about this condition and the impact it has had.

Are you worried? Uneasy? Perhaps confused? You are not alone. Supporting a loved one with HS can have its challenges at times. We want to reassure you that you have a wonderful opportunity to support your loved one by being present, asking questions, and providing the emotional support the person you care about needs at this time.

Having a loved one with HS can be hard. You may feel helpless and not sure what to say or do for the person you care about. You may have tried to get some answers about HS, only to be overwhelmed with information and still be confused on how you can help.1

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You are a trusted and caring person to your loved one, and it is important you understand what HS is and learn tips on how you can make a difference.

What you should know about HS

HS is a long-term skin condition that causes painful sores or wounds on the skin. The wounds are usually located in areas of the body where the skin rubs together or where clothing can rub over time.

These wounds on the skin can be open and drain, and even odorous at times. Not only are the wounds painful, they can also be embarrassing and cause your loved one emotional distress. HS wounds are not contagious and are not caused by poor hygiene. You cannot “catch” the disease.2

HS does not have a cure. There are treatment options, but everyone is different.

How you can make a difference

While you cannot take away the pain or discomfort your loved one may experience due to HS, you can make a difference. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:3

  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Support your loved one to quit smoking, eat healthy foods, and maintain a healthy weight. These things may help to decrease HS symptoms.
  • Help your loved one keep track of important appointments when needed.
  • Be open and up-front with your conversations about HS. This may help your loved one feel less nervous talking about the condition.
  • Help your loved one find support groups that may be of help. Offer to go with them.

Finally, it is okay to ask questions. Wanting to learn more about the disease shows that you care. Try to ask the questions in a casual and non-judgmental way in order to show your support. Using these tips, you can be the supportive person your loved one needs.