What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can be an uncomfortable condition. It is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes small, painful bumps to develop. They occur most commonly in areas where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin and breasts.
The most common symptoms include:
- Blackheads forming in small, pitted areas. They may also occur in pairs.
- A single pea-sized lump that can persist for weeks or even months. Eventually, more lumps develop.
- The lumps eventually open and leak, draining pus that is malodorous.
- Tunneling may occur underneath the skin, connecting the lumps.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa Home Treatment
There are a variety of medicated and surgical treatment options available for HS. However, a treatment plan also typically consists of a combination of home treatments and medical treatments.
Here are some home treatments that your healthcare provider may prescribe:
- A skin-care routine. A cleanser, such as chlorhexidine 4% or a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide, may be recommended prior to showering. In addition, irritants such as washcloths and loofahs should be avoided.
- Skip the shave. Though it may sound counterintuitive, shaving can worsen HS symptoms.
- Treat the pain. Using warm compresses can help to ease the pain, as can over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Make some dietary adjustments. Research indicates that dairy, red meats and foods high on the glycemic index (GI) can worsen symptoms.
- Quit smoking. Quitting smoking may improve symptoms.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa Natural Treatment
In addition to medical treatment and general self-care, there are a variety of HS home remedies that may help ease symptoms.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has known antiseptic and antibacterial properties Applying it topically may help reduce the number of lesions.
There is little research on the effectiveness of tea tree oil to treat HS, though there is ample research for tea tree oil as a treatment for acne. Though HS and acne have similarities, they are not the same thing. As such, when using tea tree oil to treat HS, know that there may be some differences in the effectiveness.
When applying tea tree oil, take care to review the recommendations on the container. Some tea tree oil can be applied directly to the skin, while others may require a carrier oil, such as olive oil or sweet almond oil.
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Like tea tree oil, there is little research on the effectiveness of turmeric to treat HS. However, turmeric has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Depending on the formulation of the product purchased, turmeric may be applied topically or ingested as a supplement.
Aloe vera has been used for centuries to treat a myriad of skin maladies. Again, there is little research to support the use of aloe vera to treat HS, but there is also no reason that you couldn’t try it.
Though aloe vera may not treat the lesions, it has cooling properties that may improve the pain associated with HS.
Aloe vera can be applied directly to the lesions twice daily. Care should be undertaken to ensure that the aloe vera is free of additives, as this can further irritate the lesions.
Epsom salts can be purchased in many locations (drugstores, grocery stores and department stores, to name a few) and are a cheap treatment option.
Though some believe that epsom salts are absorbed into the skin and can treat skin conditions, there is little evidence that this is true. However, there is evidence that epsom salts can draw infection out of the skin and improve inflammation.
To use an epsom salt bath, pour about one and a quarter cup into a warm bath. They can also be applied when doing a warm compress.
There is a lot of evidence that suggests that honey, the real liquid that you buy from a beekeeper or a farmer’s market, has antibacterial properties. Another type of honey, manuka honey, has been used for centuries for its antibacterial properties. Evidence on the treatment of HS is limited at best, but anecdotal evidence exists.
To trial honey as a treatment for HS, apply it directly to the lesions. It can be combined with turmeric to potentially increase the potency. It can also be consumed on toast or in tea.
Your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding deodorant completely. If you choose to use deodorant, selecting a natural deodorant may be recommended. A natural deodorant that is free of aluminum can prevent the lesions from worsening.
If you’ve been diagnosed with HS your healthcare provider will likely prescribe a variety of medications. There are also home treatments and natural remedies that may work as a complementary therapy, improving your symptoms.