Mild hidradenitis suppurativa may be treated with only self-care measures. But self-care is also an important complement to any medical treatment you may be getting. The following suggestions may help relieve discomfort and speed healing of sores:

  • Follow a daily skin-care routine. Gently wash your body with a nonsoap cleanser such as Cetaphil. Use only your hands, not washcloths, loofahs or other items that might irritate the skin. If odor is a concern, try an antibacterial body wash. Then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream. It might also help to apply extra absorbent powder or zinc oxide. Using antiperspirants may help keep the skin dry. Stop using any product that irritates your skin.
  • Manage your pain. Gently applying a wet, warm washcloth, teabag or other sort of compress can help reduce swelling and ease pain. Keep it on for about 10 minutes. Ask your doctor to recommend the most appropriate pain reliever. And talk with your doctor about how to properly dress and care for your wounds at home.
  • Avoid tight clothes and irritating products. Wear loose, lightweight clothes to reduce friction. Some women find that using tampons rather than sanitary pads causes less friction with the skin. Use detergents and other products that are free of perfumes, dyes and enzymes.
  • Avoid injuring the skin. For example, don't squeeze the pimples and sores. And stop shaving affected skin.
  • Keep a healthy weight and stay active. Not being at a healthy weight can make symptoms worse. Try to find activities that don't irritate your skin.
  • Consider altering your diet. In an informal study, 47 people with hidradenitis suppurativa gave up dairy products and processed sugar and flour. Of those, 83 percent experienced reduced symptoms. Also, a study reported on 12 people being treated for hidradenitis suppurativa who avoided beer and other foods containing brewer's yeast or wheat. They all saw their symptoms clear up within a year.
  • Avoid all tobacco products. If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking and other tobacco use may play a role in making hidradenitis suppurativa worse.

One of the greatest challenges of living with hidradenitis suppurativa may be coping with pain and embarrassment. Painful sores might affect your sleep, mobility or sex life. If the sores are draining pus, they can smell, despite good self-care. You might feel anxious and become withdrawn, self-conscious or depressed.

Try to find support among your family and friends. You may also find the concern and understanding of other people with hidradenitis suppurativa comforting. Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional or contact information for a support group.

Aug. 23, 2017
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