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No matter what stage of hidradenitis suppurativa you’re in, indulge your skin with these expert suggestions and tricks.
If you have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), you know that a flare is more than just a minor hiccup—it’s a complete roadblock. The chronic skin illness, which is characterized by furious, inflammatory cyst-like pimples and pus-filled tunnels beneath the skin, can be excruciatingly painful and put a halt to your daily activities. Prescription topicals, oral medications, and injections can help to stop a flare and prevent future ones, but there are also techniques to relieve pain while you’re undergoing therapy, as well as skincare and lifestyle changes that can keep the problem from worsening. Here’s how to feel more at ease in your own flesh during an HS flare.
HS, also known as acne inversa, is a persistent skin disorder caused by inflammation of small glands (apocrine sweat glands) near the base of your hair follicles. Experts aren’t sure why these glands get so hot and irritated. “We believe there is an exaggerated immune response to some of the bacteria that naturally live in the sweat glands,” explains Dr Adil. As a result, you get red, puffy, pus-filled abscesses in regions where skin rubs together frequently, such as your underarms or groin. These pimples eventually “erupt,” spilling pus and diminishing in size before reappearing.
There are three separate Hurley stages (named after the doctor who established them), ranging from mild to severe. Your HS may advance from stage I to stage III, but this is not always the case. “Many people remain in stage I for the duration of their HS,” Dr Adil explains. There are methods to take at least some of the care into your own hands wherever you are right now.
Self-Care for Stage I
Stage I is the mildest type of the illness, with a single bump that returns in the same area, but there is no scarring. You may help your skin during this time by doing the following:
When a single bump appears, the goal is to minimize inflammation and prevent infection. Cleanse the afflicted area thoroughly with an antibacterial neem soap. “It helps lower levels of microorganisms on the skin that can drive infections and inflammation,” explains Dr Adil
Remove the razor.
Razor blades can irritate bumps, and nicks or ingrown hairs can aggravate the problem. According to Dr Adil, if you have a breakout in the area, an electric shaver is a softer alternative because it does not come too close to the skin’s surface. Laser hair removal, which uses a light source to kill hair follicles, can help reduce future flares and the severity of your HS, as well as get rid of unsightly hair.
Change your deodorant.
If you have an irritated underarm lump, strongly scented antiperspirant/deodorants containing compounds like aluminium can sting like hell. Skip it until you’re healed, or use a fragrance-free, aluminum-free solution instead.
Obtain some pain alleviation.
Cool compresses can assist reduce swelling, while warm compresses promote drainage and provide comfort from painful abscesses. “Some patients also find that certain over-the-counter remedies containing menthol and camphor, such as Vick’s Vap-o-rub (or a similar generic) or Emuaid, feel soothing to apply,” Dr Adil explains.
Stage II Self-Care
In addition to recurring bumps, stage II patients have sinus tracts, which are tunnels under the skin that connect the lesions. You’ve progressed beyond the stage of isolated, infrequent bumps, so it’s time to consider your lifestyle and what might be causing your HS.
Keep an eye on the scale.
“Studies suggest that weight loss, whether through traditional methods or bariatric surgery, may help reduce disease severity,” says our Ayurveda Specialist Dr Adil. What you consume to reduce weight may also be important. The research on diet and HS is limited, however there is enough to establish a link between food and HS severity. A tiny study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology discovered that a dairy-free diet improved the skin of 83% of HS patients. Sugar, simple carbs, nightshade foods (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers), and brewer’s yeast have all been implicated in exacerbating HS. Before you completely eliminate them from your diet, consider this: Food triggers differ from person to person, so determining yours may involve some trial and error. Dr Adil suggests eliminating one or two foods at a time.
If you’re still puffing, it’s time to put that cigarette out of your life. “Smoking has been shown to worsen disease flares,” Dr Adil explains. It can also prevent you from ever reaching remission. A new study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that smokers had poorer and delayed rates of remission for HS than those who quit or never smoked at all.
Increase your soothing
When the lumps, sinus tracts, and scar tissue start appearing, things can quickly move from uncomfortable to unbearable. “At this point, it is often beneficial to consider medications to gain better control and try to reduce scarring and tunnelling over time,” Dr Adil explains. He recommends a solution of one spoonful of white vinegar mixed into a cup of warm water and rubbed with a washcloth for 10 to 15 minutes for instant relief.
ADVANCED HS Medicine Cabinet
To stay one step ahead of HS, harsher therapies are required. Inquire with your dermatologist about these potent medicines that can provide relief for your skin.
Bacteria may not cause HS, but they can exacerbate it, and oral antibiotics are used to help reduce their numbers when you have several active nodules.
If your flare-ups worsen shortly before or during your period (or if you’re a guy having male-patterned baldness), speak with your doctor to include herbal androgen-blocker supplements like licorice or saw palmeto .
Tea Tree or Herbal Essential Oils
This powerful essential oil is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for treating HS. For maximum effects, use a few drops with a quarter-size dose of fragrance-free moisturiser.
Stage III Self-Care
The most severe stage is III, which includes many nodules covering an area, numerous sinus tracts, and thick scarring. At this stage, you may have tried all of the above suggestions, and an oral medication, immune suppressor, or surgery may be part of the strategy. Meanwhile, your goal should be to make oneself as comfortable as possible.
The bump should be massaged. The pus-filled abscesses may be unpleasant and stink, but they must drain in order to heal. Dr Adil recommends massaging the swollen nodes in the shower to hasten the healing process. Consider using moisture-absorbing powders to assist keep the region dry as they drain.
According to Dr Adil, drainage can necessitate many bandage changes per day. That’s a lot of gauze pads, which may add up quickly. Inquire with your insurance provider about if your wound supplies are covered. Don’t laugh, but feminine pads (applied over the draining region and secured with a reusable medical wrap) can be an unexpected, cost-effective alternative. Once the bump has emptied and you have an open wound, apply antibiotic ointment to it before covering it.
Improve your appearance. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t constrain around those friction-heavy regions will help you feel more at ease while dealing with and recuperating.
Inside a HS Bump
Let’s take a closer look at what happens when healthy skin turns bad.
On the Surface, When one or more bumps appear, typically in skin folds, they usually come to a head and drain pus, much like a big honkin’ zit or an angry boil. However, the nodule does not always come to a head. Instead, you’ll experience redness, swelling, and pain. The “good” news is that scarring is not caused by Stage 1 HS.
Apocrine sweat glands, tiny glands at the base of your hair follicles, are irritable. They’re inflamed, most likely as a result of an overactive immune reaction to germs that exist there naturally. Even before you see anything on your skin, you may feel sensitivity and agony in the area.
On the outside, In level 2, you’ll experience recurring bumps that appear in the same locations. When the lumps rupture, the pus and blood drain back into your skin and fill the tunnels beneath the skin. You are left with an open wound and scars.
Bumps on the skin progress from little and spread out to larger, coupled bumps and scars.
Under the Skin Those same glands are inflamed, but this time there is the creation of sinus tracts beneath the skin’s surface—tunnels that connect to the surface lesions and fill with pus. Consider an ant farm with numerous underground passages.
On the outside, Multiple deep, inflammatory lumps cover a large portion of your body. As the bumps emerge and heal, dense scar tissue forms, which can be painful.
Under the Surface The sinus tract formation is broad and linked in this most severe stage of HS. Consider what would happen if all of New York City’s underground train tubes combined into one large area. Isn’t it total chaos? That’s the state of your skin right now.
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According to Ayurveda, hidradenitis suppurativa is a cause of Kapha and Pitta dosha. When the digestive fire (Agni), or Pitta, is out of balance, the Kapha Dosha becomes vitiated, which slows down metabolism. Due to the disruption of fat molecules, they start to build up in muscles and impede bodily passageways, causing painful, swollen sores in the groin, buttocks, thighs, and armpits.
In Ayurveda, hidradenitis suppurativa Treatment is to restore the body’s natural equilibrium by detoxifying it with potent herbal therapies.
The treatment for Hidradenitis Suppurativa at Elite Ayurveda comprises balancing the Kapha and Pitta doshas, as well as providing harmony to the metabolism. The treatment comprises body detoxification, internal drugs to balance doshas, and external applications to heal scars.
The treatment involves combinations of herbs created based on individual Prakruti and Vikruti analysis. Visit our website to know more
Connect with us to get our patient testimonials and also to speak with our patients directly about their experience in getting their disease treated by us and by Ayurveda as a whole.
Medically reviewed by Dr Adil Moulanchikkal, Lead Ayurveda Specialist at EliteAyurveda Clinics. With over 15 years of experience in treating Neurological, Skin & Autoimmune Diseases.
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