Also known as Acne Inversa, Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a skin disease that affects somewhere between one to four percent of people around the world. It is not contagious and while it is more common in women it can affect men too.
It presents in parts of the body where you have skin touching skin, so under breasts, folds of skin, underarms and in the buttock and groin region, but it can occur almost anywhere on the body. People living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa or HS have to learn to manage the symptoms in different ways including using a hidradenitis suppurativa diet, as there is no cure.
What do the symptoms look like?
This is a chronic condition so those living with HS go through periods of flare-up and then periods of remission. When there are flare-ups the symptoms worsen. These include:
- Persistent abscesses that do not always heal when the pus drains and can become connected and harder to treat
- Sebaceous, epidermoid and pilonidal cysts
- Discomfort up to unbearable pain
- Limited ability to move
What causes HS?
There is still a lot of debate about what causes Hidradenitis Suppurativa. In HS warriors, when dead skin cells are trapped in a gland, those clogged glands overproduce oil and accumulate bacteria.
This causes swelling, pus to form and so on. But why this causes such a reaction has a number of theories and no real answers right now. Some think it may be an immune system-related problem, some a genetic and others are considering hormone imbalance.
There is no cure yet, but there are things you can do to help avoid or manage your flare-ups . Eating a healthy hidradenitis suppurativa diet is a good thing, avoiding your trigger foods, reducing or learning to manage stress and getting some exercise when possible, are examples that some people with HS have had success with.
There are three clinical stages. These are:
- Stage One – One or several abscesses form but there is no scarring caused and it is often misdiagnosed as acne.
- Stage Two – Abscesses are recurrent and some sinus tract and lesions also form. The inflammation causes some people to limit movement and exercise.
- Stage Three – The inflammation is more severe as is the pain. Swellings are a lot larger, scarring and sinus tract formation occurs.
Managing Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Whatever stage you are at, there are things you can do to help manage it, and there is a strong community out there ready to support you. Medically, treatment often begins with antibiotics for their anti-inflammatory impact.
Other anti-inflammatory drugs can be used such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids. There are different approaches depending on where you are in the world. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to help control it.
Dietary intervention to maintain a healthy weight with a hidradenitis suppurativa diet and regular exercise. Supplements, special clothing, hydrotherapy are also things many people have tried and as a result, see improvements. Work out what works best for you!