Care tips for hidradenitis suppurativa wounds

Hidradenitis suppurativa wound care promotes healing and prevents infection. Here's how to give your wounds some TLC.

Wound care is an important part of treating hidradenitis suppurativa. You might be dealing with the condition's deep, draining wounds. Or maybe you have wounds from surgery to remove tunnels from under your skin. All wounds need proper care to speed healing, prevent infections and reduce unpleasant odor.

General guidelines are to keep a wound clean and covered by a bandage (dressing). But how to best care for a wound depends on how severe it is, how deep it is, and whether it's wet or dry.

Talk with your doctor about what's most appropriate for your wounds. It can help to understand the process, materials and options your doctor might recommend.

Wound care basics

There are three main steps in wound care.

  • Gentle cleansers, such as saline and sterile water, clean the skin and reduce infection risks. Avoid irritating, harsh soaps. Clean a wound each time you change the dressing.
  • Antiseptics, usually applied after cleansing, help with infected or foul-smelling wounds. Antiseptic solutions kill bacteria. Silver and iodine are most helpful.
  • Dressings cover a wound once it's clean. Several types of dressings exist. But, in general, dressings are made up of multiple layers. The inner layers absorb fluid that the skin releases as it heals. The outer layer keeps the inner layers in place and keeps the wound clean.

Choose a dressing

The right dressing type for you depends, in part, on the amount of moisture that your wound needs to heal.

  • A wound that's dry and not draining fluid needs a dressing that keeps the area moist. Dry wounds heal slowly and can crack and be painful.
  • A wound that's wet and draining a lot of fluid needs an absorbent dressing. Wet wounds can grow in size, tear open or form excess scar tissue.

Dressings for dry wounds

These include:

  • Hydrocolloids. These moist dressings absorb fluids. Hydrocolloid dressings swell and create a gel, allowing the dressing to stay moist — which speeds healing. The gel also absorbs bacteria and inflammatory cells, which are removed when the dressing is removed.
  • Polymer films. These synthetic, clear sheets cover the wound and stick to the skin around it to create a barrier. These dressings have the lowest infection rates and fastest healing rates.
  • Biodegradable dressings. These dressings use a layer of cells naturally found in the body — such as tiny blood cells (platelets) or a protein found in skin cells (collagen) — to create a barrier over the wound. They're typically used when other dressings haven't worked.

Dressings for wet wounds

Options include:

  • Alginate. Created from seaweed and algae, these dressings are highly absorbent and don't stick to the wound. Silver alginate also protects against bacteria.
  • Foam. This synthetic silicone foam fills open wounds like a sponge and absorbs draining fluids.

When choosing a dressing, other considerations are:

  • Cost.
  • How easy a dressing is to use — including whether it sticks to your wound, which can be painful.
  • How well a dressing fits — for example, areas such as the armpit and groin can be awkward to bandage.

Promote healing

To cover your wounds and secure dressings without further injuring your skin:

  • Coat the area in petroleum jelly to prevent the dressing from sticking
  • Avoid tape and adhesives that could stick to your wound and cause further damage and pain
  • Wrap an elastic bandage around the dressing

You might need to change your dressings as you heal. But it's important not to irritate the wound, so your doctor may recommend you change the dressings only daily or every other day.

Keep an eye out for any signs of infection. Call your doctor if you develop a fever or notice significant swelling or pain, spreading redness, bleeding that won't stop, or drainage that isn't clear.

It may seem like a lot of work. But keeping your hidradenitis suppurativa wounds clean, covered and cared for can speed healing — allowing you to focus more on life, and less on your skin.

Dec. 29, 2018 See more In-depth

See also

  1. Acne
  2. Acne mistakes
  3. Acne scars: What's the best treatment?
  4. Acne treatments: Medical procedures may help clear skin
  5. Antidepressant withdrawal: Is there such a thing?
  6. Antidepressants and alcohol: What's the concern?
  7. Antidepressants and weight gain: What causes it?
  8. Antidepressants: Can they stop working?
  9. Antidepressants: Side effects
  10. Antidepressants: Selecting one that's right for you
  11. Antidepressants: Which cause the fewest sexual side effects?
  12. Atypical antidepressants
  13. Birth control pills for acne?
  14. Can zinc supplements help treat hidradenitis suppurativa?
  15. Clinical depression: What does that mean?
  16. Clinical trials for hidradenitis suppurativa
  17. Coping with the stress of hidradenitis suppurativa
  18. Creating a hidradenitis suppurativa care team
  19. Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?
  20. Depression, anxiety and exercise
  21. Depression: Diagnosis is key
  22. Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap
  23. Depression (major depressive disorder)
  24. Depression: Provide support, encouragement
  25. Depression: Supporting a family member or friend
  26. Don't blame pizza, fries or dirt for acne
  27. Excessive sweating
  28. Hidradenitis suppurativa
  29. Hidradenitis suppurativa and biologics: Get the facts
  30. Hidradenitis suppurativa and diet: What's recommended?
  31. Hidradenitis suppurativa and sleep: How to get more zzz's
  32. Hidradenitis suppurativa: Tips for weight-loss success
  33. Hidradenitis suppurativa: What is it?
  34. Hidradenitis suppurativa: When does it appear?
  35. Hidradenitis suppurativa: Where can I find support?
  36. Living better with hidradenitis suppurativa
  37. Male depression: Understanding the issues
  38. Managing hidradenitis suppurativa: Early treatment is crucial
  39. Hidradenitis suppurativa-related health risks
  40. MAOIs and diet: Is it necessary to restrict tyramine?
  41. Marijuana and depression
  42. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  43. Natural acne treatment: What's most effective?
  44. Natural remedies for depression: Are they effective?
  45. Nervous breakdown: What does it mean?
  46. Over-the-counter acne products: What works and why
  47. Pain and depression: Is there a link?
  48. Reducing the discomfort of hidradenitis suppurativa: Self-care tips
  49. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  50. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  51. Staying active with hidradenitis suppurativa
  52. Surgery for hidradenitis suppurativa
  53. Take action against acne
  54. Treat acne-prone skin with care
  55. Treating hidradenitis suppurativa: Explore your options
  56. Treating hidradenitis suppurativa with antibiotics and hormones
  57. Treatment-resistant depression
  58. Tricyclic antidepressants and tetracyclic antidepressants
  59. Vitamin B-12 and depression
  60. What are the signs and symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa?