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Hidradenitis Suppurativa


Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic (long-term) skin disease that causes your sweat glands or hair follicles to get clogged and inflamed. HS causes red bumps that look like pimples or small boils to develop on your skin. The cause of HS is unknown. It may run in families. Being overweight and smoking worsens signs and symptoms of HS.


Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse, even with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent a bacterial infection. Antibiotics may be used long-term. Antibiotics may be given as a cream or pill.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Other medicines may be used to treat HS. These may include hormones, acne medicines, steroids, biologic therapy, and medicines that slow your immune system.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage HS symptoms and decrease flare-ups:

  • Apply warm, moist compresses. This may help to decrease pain. Keep the compress on your skin for 10 minutes. Sitz baths may be recommended if your genital or anal area is affected by HS. To do a sitz bath, fill a bathtub with 4 to 6 inches of warm water. You may also use a sitz bath pan that fits inside a toilet bowl. Sit in the sitz bath for 15 minutes. Do this 3 times a day, and after each bowel movement. The warm water can help decrease pain and swelling. 
  • Wash your skin gently. Use cleansers recommended by your healthcare provider. Antibacterial soap may be helpful.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Weight loss may help to improve signs and symptoms of HS.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make it more difficult to treat HS and worsen symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not wear tight clothing. Tight clothing rubs against your skin and causes irritation that can worsen HS.
  • Do not shave or use deodorant in areas of skin affected by HS. Ask your healthcare provider about safe deodorant or hair removal options.
  • Keep your skin cool. Overheating and sweating can cause an HS flare-up.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should make any changes to the foods you eat. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you avoid dairy foods. A dairy-free diet may help decrease your symptoms. Dairy foods include milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if HS is causing you to feel depressed. Your healthcare provider may recommend counseling to help you cope with HS.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.