Creating a hidradenitis suppurativa care team
Hidradenitis suppurativa is more than just a skin condition. Consider how a team of experts can help care for your skin, your emotional well-being and your overall health.
Beyond changes to your skin, hidradenitis suppurativa can affect your mind and body in many ways. You might also develop gastrointestinal issues, changes in your hormones or depression. As a result, you'll likely need to work with more than just a dermatologist to address the layers of care that your condition requires.
Consider how these health care providers might be able to help you manage your hidradenitis suppurativa and its effects:
- Dermatologist. Since hidradenitis suppurativa is primarily a skin condition, your dermatologist will manage your skin treatment and prescribe any necessary medications. He or she can help you develop a skin care regimen to prevent infection and skin irritation.
- Primary care doctor. You'll still need to meet with your doctor for regular well-visit checkups. He or she will also screen you for other health conditions common in people with hidradenitis suppurativa, such as metabolic syndrome, depression and autoimmune disorders. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you are overweight, your doctor can help you create a plan to lose weight and improve your overall health.
- General or plastic surgeon. Your dermatologist might refer you to a surgeon if your hidradenitis suppurativa is severe and responding poorly to lifestyle changes and medications. A general surgeon or a plastic surgeon can remove deep, painful lesions and tunnels under your skin.
- Gastroenterologist. Some people with hidradenitis suppurativa also have Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. If you have signs or symptoms of Crohn's disease, your dermatologist or doctor might refer you to a gastroenterologist, who specializes in diseases of the digestive system and can help you manage the condition.
- Endocrinologist. Diabetes and metabolic syndrome are common in people with hidradenitis suppurativa. An endocrinologist specializes in treating these types of hormonal disorders. If you have one of these conditions, you'll work with an endocrinologist to manage your blood sugar levels and weight.
- Mental health provider or social worker. A mental health provider can help you cope with depression or anxiety caused by hidradenitis suppurativa or serve as someone to talk to about the challenges of living with a visible skin condition. A social worker can also help you address challenges in finding and paying for the medical care you need.
- Registered dietitian. Your diet and weight can affect your hidradenitis suppurativa and any related conditions. A registered dietitian can help you develop a meal plan that helps you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. If you have Crohn's disease or diabetes, your dietitian can suggest changes to your diet to improve your condition.
Before meeting with members of your care team, prepare a list of questions. During appointments, share important information, such as what medications you are taking and any other conditions you might have. Take notes to make the most of your visits. By working with a care team, you'll be taking steps to manage your physical and emotional health.
April 11, 2017
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