Talking to Your Doctor About Hidradenitis Suppurativa

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

Talking about hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can be hard. You may not want to talk about your symptoms with anyone because of the physical and emotional stress it causes. It is important to remember that your doctor wants and needs to know about your symptoms in order to help you feel better.

You probably have questions about HS that you may not have the answers to. Your doctor is a great resource to help answer questions. But how do you even start the conversation with your doctor?

We hope this helps you organize your thoughts and questions when finding and talking to your doctor about HS.

Find a doctor you can talk to

Finding a doctor you can talk to and trust may seem like a difficult task. Where do you even begin?

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There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a doctor to talk to:1

  • Decide what you are looking for. What qualities matter most to you? Do you need a doctor who has evening or weekend appointments? Perhaps you are looking for a doctor that speaks your native language.
  • Make a list of a few doctors who meet what you are looking for. This narrows the large amount of doctors you can find by doing your original search. You may want to search online for qualifications of the doctors and any reviews you may be able to find. Online searches can also help you make sure the doctors you are considering are accepted by your health insurance.
  • Use your list and ask your friends. Ask around! Sometimes the best recommendations come from your friends and neighbors.

Keep track of your symptoms

Tracking your symptoms of HS can help you when planning to talk to your doctor about HS. This can be a simple journal or on a calendar. Be as detailed as possible to remember exact pain levels, feelings, and other symptoms.

Remember to add how HS has impacted your life. Your functional daily living includes your ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Functional impact from HS should be reported to your doctor.

HS can have a major impact on your emotional health in addition to the visible symptoms. Emotional distress, depression, and anxiety are all more common in those with HS. It may be more difficult to bring these symptoms to your doctor, but they are important to your overall health.2

Be open and honest

It is okay to not know what you want or need. Keeping your doctor informed of your health and your current symptoms will help to narrow down both short- and long-term treatment goals. Be honest about your symptoms, even if these symptoms may be emotionally distressing.

Finding a doctor that is knowledgeable and nonjudgmental is key to having a meaningful relationship. A doctor who really listens and cares can create a treatment plan that you both can agree on and will improve your quality of life.