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Hidradenitis suppurativa: Tips for managing

Lifestyle changes can have long-lasting effects that make it easier to control your hidradenitis suppurativa — or even clear hidradenitis suppurativa.

Overweight woman flexing her biceps and holding a bag full of healthy groceries

If you have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), making a few changes to your lifestyle may be the most helpful treatment of all. Dermatologists have found that patients who make some lifestyle changes tend to have fewer flare-ups. They also tend to have less severe HS.

Dermatologists offer the following tips to their patients who have HS:

  1. Lose weight to lessen HS or even clear your skin. If you are overweight, losing weight may be the most effective way to control HS. It may even be more effective than treatment. Dermatologists have found that when patients who have HS lose weight, they have fewer flare-ups. Losing just 10% of your body weight can make a difference.

    Losing weight has additional benefits for people who have HS. Findings from one medical study showed that having HS increases the risk for developing other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. HS also increases the risk of having a stroke. Losing weight and eating a well-balanced diet on most days can reduce these risks.

  2. Quit smoking to reduce HS flare-ups. Quitting smoking can help you live a longer, healthier life. It also can reduce HS flare-ups and decrease the severity of HS.

  3. Stop shaving where you have breakouts. Shaving can irritate the skin. If you want to remove the hair, ask your dermatologist what you can safely use to remove the hair.

  4. Wear loose-fitting clothes to reduce friction. Tight waistbands and form-fitting clothes tend to rub against your skin, causing HS to flare. Wearing loose-fitting clothes, including underwear, can help.

  5. Keep your skin cool. Overheating and sweating can cause HS to flare. If you need a product that can help reduce sweating, such as an antiperspirant, ask your dermatologist for a recommendation. Some antiperspirants are too harsh for skin affected by HS.

Immediate pain relief at home: Deep cyst or nodule

If you have a painful deep lump from HS, doing one of the following can bring quick relief:

  • Place a hot teabag on the deep lump. To do this, boil water. Once the water boils, place a teabag in a cup and pour the boiling water over the teabag. Let the teabag seeps in the hot water for a minute. Then remove the hot teabag, palcing it on the HS. Keep the teabag on that spot for 10 minutes.

  • Apply a hot compress. To make a hot compress, placea clean washcloth under hot water. Wring out the excess water, and apply the hot compress to the HS for 10 minutes.

Dermatologists provide specific tips for each patient

These tips can help most patients who have HS. Because HS can affect the skin in different ways, other tips may help you. Your dermatologist can offer self-care tips that can help you manage your HS.

Related AAD resources

More resources

Getty Images

Alikhan A, Lynch PJ, Eisen DB. "Hidradenitis suppurativa: A comprehensive review." J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60(4):539-61.

Buimer MG, Wobbes T, Klinkenbijl JH. “Hidradenitis suppurativa.” Br J Surg. 2009 Apr;96(4):350-60.

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