Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a chronic skin condition characterized by painful lumps beneath the skin, often in areas where the skin rubs together. As with many skin conditions, an effective skincare routine can be crucial in managing symptoms and preventing flare-ups. To help those with HS maintain healthy and radiant skin, we’re sharing some helpful tips and skincare routines specifically for people living with this condition.
Understanding the Basics of Hidradenitis Suppurativa
HS is a complex condition with several triggers and varying degrees of severity. It commonly affects areas with sweat glands, such as the underarms, groin, and buttocks. The lumps or nodules may range from pea-sized to golf ball-sized and may be accompanied by drainage of pus or foul-smelling fluid. Before discussing specific skincare recommendations, it is essential to understand the underlying causes of HS and common triggers.
The Underlying Cause of HS
HS results from inflammation and blockage of hair follicles, leading to painful abscesses and tunnels under the skin. While the exact cause is unknown, factors like genetics, inflammation, and hormones play a role. People with a family history of HS, obesity, or other inflammatory conditions like acne and Crohn’s disease are at higher risk. If you suspect you have HS, seeking medical advice for accurate diagnosis and treatment is crucial.
Common Triggers of HS Flare-Ups
While specific triggers may vary from person to person, some factors have been consistently associated with flare-ups of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Being aware of these triggers and attempting to mitigate or avoid them when possible can play a significant role in managing this condition. Here are some common triggers of HS:
- Hormonal Changes: Many individuals with HS report flare-ups during periods of hormonal change, such as menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause.
- Friction and Irritation: Skin-on-skin friction or irritation from clothing, particularly in the armpits and groin, can exacerbate HS.
- Heat and Sweating: Warm weather, exercise, and other conditions that lead to excessive sweating can trigger HS symptoms.
- Stress: Emotional stress has been linked with HS flare-ups, likely due to its impact on the immune system.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking is a well-documented trigger and worsening factor for HS.
- Certain Foods: Some people find that specific foods, especially dairy or foods rich in brewer’s yeast (like bread and beer), can trigger HS symptoms.
Crafting Hidradenitis Suppurativa-friendly Skincare Routines
Maintaining skin health when living with HS involves developing skincare routines that are suited to your unique needs. As HS affects areas of the skin prone to friction and irritation, gentle care is critical. Your HS-friendly skincare routine should focus on three main strategies: gentle cleansing, moisturizing and protecting, and minimizing irritation and friction.
Keeping the affected areas clean without causing further irritation is a delicate balancing act. A gentle cleanser can help remove dirt, bacteria, and excess oils without stripping the skin of its natural protective barrier. It’s also important to avoid harsh scrubbing, which can worsen symptoms. Moreover, avoid using bar soaps, which tend to have a high pH and can dry the skin and cause irritation. Instead, opt for pH-balanced cleansers or mild foaming cleansers that are fragrance-free.
Moisturizing and Protecting
Moisturizing can soothe irritated skin and create a protective barrier, preventing further irritation or infection. Look for moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to help replenish the skin’s moisture barrier. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is also essential, as sun exposure may worsen HS symptoms. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based sunscreens may be less irritating for sensitive skin.
Minimizing Irritation and Friction
Minimizing friction and avoiding irritants is a key part of managing HS. Wearing loose, breathable clothing can help reduce skin-on-skin friction. Additionally, avoid products with potential irritants like artificial fragrances or dyes. For women, consider alternatives to shaving affected areas, like hair removal creams or laser treatment, to reduce skin irritation. It’s also important to avoid picking or squeezing HS lesions, as this may lead to infection and scarring.
What Does an HS Skincare Routine Look Like?
Crafting an HS-friendly skincare routine is about finding the right products and strategies that work for you. Here’s a sample routine that you can tailor to your specific needs:
- Cleanse with a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser or mild foaming wash.
- Moisturize with a lotion or cream containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or glycerin.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
- Cleanse with the same gentle cleanser as in the morning.
- Moisturize again if needed. If you have open lesions, consider using a barrier cream or ointment like petroleum jelly.
- Apply topical medication as prescribed by your doctor if needed.
Tips for Managing Flare-ups:
- Use warm compresses to help relieve pain and inflammation.
- Apply a topical or oral anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing, especially in areas prone to HS, like the underarms and groin.
- Practice stress-management techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
Contribute to Hidradenitis Suppurativa Breakthroughs
At Olympian Clinical Research, we’re passionate about making a difference for those with HS. You can contribute to this essential work by participating in our clinical trials. By joining an HS clinical trial, you are not only gaining access to potential new treatments, but you are also contributing to the understanding of HS and helping to advance medical research. This could lead to the development of more effective treatments for HS in the future. If you or a loved one is living with HS and interested in exploring opportunities to contribute to finding new solutions, please contact us today. Together, we can unlock the keys to better skincare routines and make strides in the battle against HS.