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Tips & tricks for hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)

HS symptoms can be painful, unpredictable, messy, and embarrassing. These tips come from others who have HS and could help you relieve discomfort and promote healing. For starters, avoid stress, get plenty of rest, and try to eat healthy. While these tips may help, be sure to talk to your doctor about anything new you’re doing to manage your disease.

How can I help manage sores?

  • Keep the affected area clean by gently washing with antibacterial soap.
  • Wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing to reduce friction on your skin.
  • Try not to shave where you have breakouts.
  • Some patients don’t shave their underarms. Instead, they use an electric trimmer to closely trim the hair.
  • Other patients make their own deodorant using essential oils like lavender or tea tree.



Cut a raw onion in half and place over abscess. Usually I tape it on the area overnight, but even a few minutes helps!


Wear close-fitting, short-like undergarments, made of a breathable material but doesn’t move like biker shorts as underwear. This helps cut down all friction.


Having a hot bath or placing a warm washcloth on the sore spots can really help with the pain, as well as stimulate draining. DO NOT SQUEEZE YOUR SORES. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRAIN YOUR OWN ABSCESSES! Believe me, I have learned from experience.


For the ladies with groin spots: if you must wear underwear (it’s better to not wear any sometimes), wear breathable cotton boyshorts! They’re adorable and you won’t have to deal with the fabric cutting into your sore spots anymore.

Blow dry after showers instead of towel dry.

Only use soaps and deodorants that are fragrance-free.


For me, an aluminum-free deodorant wasn’t enough. I whipped up a homemade baking soda deodorant. Plenty of recipes on the internet!

Inserting a feminine hygiene pad between a lesion, with the adhesive side to your clothing. The pad is absorbent, keeps a lesion covered and clean, allows it to breathe, stays in place, and a thin pad is seamless under a t-shirt. Helps your laundry, too.


I think using a spray that has antiseptic + aloe & pain reliever all in one helps the skin stay soft & supple so it doesn’t break down anymore and leaves less scars, too! Tea tree oil is also wonderful stuff!

How do I manage inflammation?

  • Apply warm compresses or a warm washcloth to help reduce swelling.
  • Put a hot tea bag that’s been steeped for a minute on the painful abscess or nodule.
  • Try ice or a cold compress for localized pain.
  • Bathe with antibacterial soap and use hypoallergenic products.
  • Use baby washes and lotions that will be gentle on your skin.



I read that organic spearmint tea helped with cystic acne. which, at the time, I believed I had under my arms. I began drinking any "organic" tea with spearmint leaves in it at least once a day. a lot of my inflammation and pain was relieved.


An antiseptic body wash helps prevent breakouts on a daily basis. After going through my initial treatment for mild HS, I use it every day and I haven’t had many breakouts since!


I use African Black Soap and also Indian Hemp with Vetiver soap for inflammation therapy.


Epsom Salt warm water bath – soak until water turns cold. I try to do twice a day or at least once a day. I know, who has time for a bath? You make time with HS.


I started eating a paleo diet—free of nightshades like potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and paprika—and avoiding things that come with potato starch as an additive, like shredded cheese or fast-food meats.


When my lesions first start I use Tea Tree oil to help with the pain. It also helps with the swelling and decreases the inflammation at the site.

How can I care for my lesions at home?

  • Always keep your lesions and abscesses clean.
  • Use clean petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. This keeps it from drying out and forming a scab.
  • Cover the skin with an adhesive bandage. If your skin is sensitive to adhesives, try a non-adhesive gauze pad with paper tape.
  • Change your bandage daily to keep the wound clean while it heals.
  • To help avoid scars, apply sunscreen to the wound after it heals. You can reduce red or brown discoloration, which will help the scar fade faster.
  • If you have more questions about healing wounds, speak to your dermatologist.



When taking a shower, get a face cloth and use hot water, then press and hold it on bump area for a few minutes. It will help circulation of blood. For buttocks I suggest just use soap that says antibacterial.


When a flare-up appears, pad the flare-up with dressings to avoid friction.

I use an over-the-counter disinfectant and antiseptic wash or skin cleanser, like chlorhexidine, on the affected areas.

Mine is located in my buttocks and groin area. When they are hurting, I find that a heating pad helps with the pain and helps them to pop faster.


If you’re like me, then even paper tape can cause skin tears and irritation. So, I’ve learned to use elastic bandage wraps to secure sterile pads over my lesions/abscesses.


Using peroxide and antibacterial soap helps me. Cotton is my go-to clothing. I use a first-aid antiseptic/pain-relieving cleaner twice on sores to help kill bacteria and aid in healing. Be patient and bathe daily.

What lifestyle changes can help with signs and symptoms of HS?

  • Lose weight, which may decrease the number of areas where your skin rubs together. In between your skin folds there can be friction and increased sweat. Your weight loss won’t cure HS, but it may relieve some of your symptoms.
  • Get more exercise. For starters, it will help you lose weight. You might also just feel better about yourself.
  • Eat healthy. Again, eating healthier foods will help you lose weight. Try to avoid processed and fried foods and instead add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Avoid stress. Though it’s not always easy, try to create a more stress-free environment for yourself. Consider meditation, or just 15 minutes of quiet time for yourself. A calmer you might calm your symptoms.
  • Quit smoking. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this: there are no benefits to smoking and all kinds of health benefits for stopping.
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I was told to take zinc tablets daily and try a low-sugar/low-carb diet. Losing weight seemed to help. Also, stay out of jacuzzies!

Daniel R.

I have suffered with HS for 20 years now. I have pinpointed that the nightshade type of foods seem to be my trigger. The main one being potatoes. Once I removed all sources of potatoes from my life, I have had NO break outs since! Please try for 30 days.


Try to refrain from eating "nightshades" (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant. basically anything with a little leaf hat).


Increase your fruits and veggies and decrease your meats. I stay away from meats with added hormones, steroids, and preservatives as I think these will add more inflammation to the body.


I’m the opposite on pants. I wear tight (but of course breathable) yoga pants or leggings to prevent my legs from rubbing together and irritating any sores I may have.


I like to mix exercise up. Arms, legs, back, yoga. Just 30 minutes a day.

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    Does CBD Battle Acne and Scarring?

    I think it’s fair to say that we’ve moved past ancient rulings of undergoing rites of passage to find our place in society. However, it’s also a globally established fact that one common rite of passage in many a teenager’s life is that of acne. Many of us have gone through this and had to deal with discomfort and even embarrassment. The real question is, “why does this happen, why do so many people around the world suffer from it?”

    Acne vulgaris (largely known as acne) is, unfortunately, one of the most common skin diseases in the world. Why does it happen? What have you done to deserve this; you might ask? To put it simply, it occurs when your skin’s hair follicles are clogged from dead skin cells alongside oil released from the skin. The effects of this long-term skin condition consist of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads, oily skin, and possible scarring. Acne primarily attacks skin with a relatively high number of oil glands, inclusive of the face, the back, and upper part of the chest.

    Classifying acne: different types

    The severity of acne vulgaris varies from mild to moderate or severe and should be properly diagnosed t o determine the most appropriate treatment course. However, this is a general classification as there is no official, universally accepted scale for grading the severity of acne. Typical characteristics of acne consist of increased secretion of oily sebum by the skin, comedones, microcomedones, papules, nodules (large papules) and pustules; these often result in scarring. The appearance of acne also varies with different skin types and pigment levels in the skin.

    Mild acne occurs in the appearance of clogged skin follicles (also referred to as comedones) that are only limited to the face, accompanied by occasional inflammatory lesions.

    Moderate severity acne occurs when a higher number of inflammatory pustules and papules occur on the face and may also appear on the trunk of the body.

    Severe acne is diagnosed when nodules (painful ‘bumps’ lying under the skin) are the characteristic facial lesions, and the rest of the body is also affected.

    To clarify what nodules are: large nodules were previously called cysts . The term nodulocystic is commonly found in medical guides and literature to describe severe cases of inflammatory acne. True cysts are uncommon in acne patients, and severe nodular acne is now the preferred terminology for this case.

    A common misconception when classifying the types of acne is that the skin condition ‘rosacea’ is also a type of acne. This is not the case as acne inversa, and acne rosacea are not forms of acne; they are instead alternate names that respectively refer to the skin conditions hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and rosacea . Even though HS has some common features with acne vulgaris, for example being prone to clog skin follicles with skin cell ‘gunk’ or debris, the condition otherwise lacks the symptoms most commonly linked to acne and is thus considered a distinct skin disorder.

    Causes of acne

    Researchers have made significant progress in deciphering different causes of acne. Several nutritionists have also offered their interpretations. These causes range from hormones to diet and even to cleanliness. Genetics is determined as the primal cause of acne. However, the role of diet and cigarette smoking in the condition is unclear, and neither cleanliness nor the exposure to sunlight is a substantiated cause.

    Hormonal activity triggers acne

    Androgens are masculinising hormones, such as testosterone, that increase oil production in the skin. Androgens are mainly higher in males , explaining why men get thicker, oilier skin and more hair production. However, women also possess androgen hormones.

    During childhood, we do not possess many androgens in our bodies. Once puberty hits though, these levels of androgens rise , thus causing our bodies to undergo many changes. The unstable hormone levels – which lead females to produce more oestrogen and androgens and males to have heightened testosterone levels – all contribute to the formation of acne.

    Another period of time in which hormonal disruption commonly occurs is during pregnancy . Despite the increased likelihood of dewier skin during pregnancy, as a result of high oestrogen and progesterone levels (often called “the pregnancy glow”), it is very common for women to experience acne flare-ups during pregnancy due to increased androgen production . The natural phenomenon of menopause also causes acne. During this time, hormones are imbalanced due to oestrogen levels dropping and androgen levels rising.

    Hair follicles produce excessive oil

    A lot of oil production has to do with genetics ; you pose four times higher risk of acne if a first-degree relative suffers from excessive oil production. However, this is not the only cause; according to Noelani Gonzalez , MD, a dermatologist from Mt. Sinai Hospital, “Not washing your face appropriately,” is another cause – “and that’s in terms of frequency and what you’re using to wash your face,” she continues.

    The American Academy of Dermatology has recommended washing your face twice a day in the morning and also at night. Additionally, it is recommended to wash your face any time after you sweat profusely, for example, after a workout, as sweat can cause bacteria build-up on your skin.

    Build up of dead skin cells and bacteria in pores

    Propionibacterium acnes, a common bacterium found on the face, tends to cause an acne outbreak when combined with oil or dead skin cells.

    Dead skin cells tend to accumulate in your pores if you don’t wash your face correctly, Gonzalez says, and bacteria can eat those skin cells and increase in the pores.

    The process of inflammation plays a vital role in differentiating types of acne. The various causes of acne include oil , dirt and skin cells. These factors lead to various types of symptoms:

    • When a pore is filled with oil and dirt, it results in the oxidation and blackening of the top of the pore, leading to the creation of blackheads, also known as comedones .
    • If that same pore potentially has skin cells covering it but no inflammation, that form is known as a whitehead.
    • Comedones that become inflamed and tender lead to pimple formation, also commonly referred to as inflammatory acne legion or abscesses . The comedones fill with pus , dead white blood cells that accumulate as a result of your immune system fighting off skin infections.
    • Inflammation in the skin that does not reach the surface is termed cystic acne . This forms deep within the hair follicle, which can be quite painful and make skin feel very sensitive.

    CBD: the rundown

    Cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, is the lesser-known constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant. Its more famous counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the active ingredient in marijuana which is responsible for the intoxicating sensation of being “high.” Cannabis sativa has its roots in Central Asia, where the plant is believed to have been used primarily for all sorts of purposes, such as cultural rituals around 750 BC.

    CBD and THC are just two of more than 100 cannabinoids present in the plant. THC is psychoactive, psychoactivity can be a good thing – think of caffeine in coffee or L-theanine in tea, which increases your alertness and can provide better balance.

    Extracted from the flowers and buds of the hemp plant, CBD is pressed into oil and is a great compliment for a balanced lifestyle.

    Your skin – the body’s largest organ

    Many common skin disorders and conditions are caused by underlying inflammation. These include cystic acne, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. Such skin disorders are often characterised by itchiness and redness and can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. Although there are many existing treatments out there for such conditions, it can often be difficult for individuals to find a treatment that works for them, as these conditions are very unique to the individual, and are caused by various factors and respond differently to treatments.

    Excitingly, studies are emerging into CBD and how it interacts with and affects your skin. Research into CBD’s potential to improve your skin is still very new, although initial findings are promising enough to prompt further investigations.

    Different ways of using CBD

    One of the most popular ways to use CBD is to ingest it orally in the form of capsules, oils, or pills. But did you know that you can apply it topically in the form of balms and oils? Another notably popular way to use CBD is to inhale it, using CBD vapes. The oral forms of CBD, such as capsules, pills and soft gels, are similar to one another but each form has slightly different properties. They may vary in texture, what they can contain, as well as in their bioavailability.

    Many people have taken to applying CBD balms on burnt skin or skin that has had an active treatment, given that the balms often contain essential oils and other adaptogens, alongside skin-soothing ingredients. Although the bioavailability of topical CBD products is not as high as those that are absorbed sublingually or vaped, users seem to find the application calming and deeply hydrating.

    Another widespread form of using CBD is to inhale it through vaping. The process of vaping is quite simple: for this, you require a vape pen or an e-cigarette, which heats a liquid up to generate vapour, which can then be inhaled. There are all kinds of vape liquids and oils out there today, and CBD vape oils now exist that are designed specifically for vaping. The bioavailability of CBD when vaped is thought to be the highest of all currently available CBD methods of consumption and is therefore very advantageous.

    There are two dermal delivery systems for CBD: transdermal and topical. CBD products for the skin can thus be classed accordingly into these two main groups.

    Transdermal products usually come in the form of adhesive patches, the infused substances then pass through the skin’s barrier and into the bloodstream, spreading evenly throughout the body.

    Topicals are meant to interact with the top layer of the skin (epidermis). Therefore, the CBD oil does not pass through to the bloodstream and instead works in the skin, offering a different effect.

    The use of CBD oil may have a calming, anti-aging effect on your skin. Topical CBD usually comes in the form of infused lotions, balms, and oils. These antioxidant-rich products are absorbed through the skin, and users believe them to help with calming, soothing, and hydrating the skin. Because CBD is natural and many topicals are formulated organic, and for sensitive skin, people gravitate to the appeal of a non-chemically laden product.

    Transdermal innovations are speedily appearing in the cannabis market, such as long-lasting patches for more acute usage, so it is an exciting area to keep an eye on.

    What about THC-Infused Topicals?

    Even if a topical product does contain active THC, it won’t induce that feeling of being “high” which you might get from smoking or ingesting marijuana. In the case of most topicals, cannabinoids aren’t able to enter the bloodstream. Transdermal patches, however, are able to deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could possibly have intoxicating effects given a high enough THC content.

    Can you use CBD cream with acne?

    Unlike harsh pharmaceutical treatment, CBD-infused skincare has a low risk of side effects when it is applied topically, similar to any other non-CBD cream or oil. While the world waits for full regulatory clarity on CBD, many people are already huge fans of using CBD in the form of topicals.

    If you’ve been fighting a never-ending battle with acne, you might be eager to learn about any and all potential remedies out there, including CBD. Properties found in CBD oil include oil-balancing, skin-soothing and hydration; all of which may calm your skin. Of course, we believe in safety first and that you should find what works best for you.

    Why not ease your way in and treat yourself to a nice CBD-oil massage – an absolute delight for body and mind!

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