Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also known as acne inversa, is a painful, debilitating and chronic inflammatory skin condition. This condition affects up to 4 percent of the population.
This long-term skin condition is characterized by blackheads and red, tender bumps (lesions) on the skin. The bumps cause itching and burning sensations. They often grow bigger in size, eventually breaking open and draining pus. Recurrences often result in scarring.
Unlike regular acne, HS develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the underarms, groin, buttocks, upper thighs and breasts (underneath and sometimes on the breasts).
The exact cause is not clear. Blocked skin pores and hair follicles is the major contributory factor. An overactive immune system and hormonal changes in the body are other possible causes.
Some risk factors that may increase your chances of developing HS are taking certain medicines, being overweight, having a family history of HS, being a smoker, having severe acne and suffering from health issues like arthritis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome or diabetes. Also, women are more prone to it than men.
Remember that this skin condition is not contagious, and it has nothing to do with poor hygiene.
It can look a lot like acne, folliculitis or boils, so it is best to see a dermatologist for a diagnosis.
Topical antibiotics can be prescribed for quick recovery. Doctors may even prescribe systemic antibiotics when the condition flares up. Sometimes surgery is needed to drain infected areas or remove scarred tissue.
However, for mild cases, there are many simple home remedies that can reduce the discomforts and speed up healing. If the condition doesn’t heal within a few weeks, then it is best to see your doctor for proper treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for hidradenitis suppurativa.
1. Keep the Area Dry
Sweat and remnant water on the affected area can worsen this skin disease. So, take all possible steps to keep the area free of any moisture.
At the same time, maintaining proper hygiene will help prevent flare-ups.
- Gently wash the affected areas with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap a few times a day. After washing, pat dry and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic powder to help any sweat get soaked up immediately.
- Take a bath daily and change your undergarments frequently.
- After using the bathroom, dry the area well with toilet paper.
- Avoid using deodorants, which can sometimes irritate your skin. Consult a dermatologist regarding the type of antiperspirant you can use.
- Avoid swimming or any other activities that make your skin wet.
2. Warm Compress
A warm compress will help soothe your irritated skin and reduce the pain associated with this condition. It will also help the swelling go down.
You must only use dry warm compresses. Wet compresses can worsen the condition.
- Fill a glass bottle with hot water.
- Wrap the bottle in a thin, dry towel.
- Hold this compress gently against the affected area for 10 minutes.
- Repeat several times a day, as needed.
Note: Do not use a hot compress if the bumps have ruptured and pus is draining out. Also, avoid warm compresses if you are pregnant or suffer from diabetes, poor circulation or high blood pressure.
Turmeric is an effective antiseptic herb that aids in healing bumps and lesions on the skin quickly. Also, its anti-inflammatory nature helps reduce swelling, pain and other symptoms of HS.
There are several ways in which you can use turmeric for treating HS.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder with a little olive or coconut oil to form a paste. Apply it directly on the sacs, wounds and lesions. Wait 30 minutes, then wash it off. Do once or twice daily for a few weeks.
- Mix 1 tablespoon each of turmeric powder and raw organic honey, along with 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of lukewarm water. Drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder into a glass of hot milk. Drink it twice a day.
- If you prefer to take curcumin capsules, consult your doctor first for the correct dosage.
4. Bleach Baths
In some cases, taking a bleach bath can help a lot to reduce symptoms of HS. It is more effective in cases in which there are symptoms of a bacterial infection.
Before taking a bleach bath, consult a dermatologist.
- Add 1/3 teaspoon of 2.2 percent household bleach for every 4 cups of lukewarm water in your bath.
- Stir it thoroughly, then soak in the bath for just 10 to 15 minutes, keeping your head above water.
- After your bath, rinse with clean water and pat yourself dry with a towel.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a known antifungal and antibiotic agent and is useful against HS.
It can reduce the number of bacteria present in the pus that’s producing a foul smell. It also helps relieve swelling, ease the pain and promote healing of the wounds.
Do not use undiluted tea tree oil, as it can irritate the skin. Always dilute it before use.
- Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil.
- Apply it on the affected area.
- Wait 15 minutes, then rinse it off using lukewarm water.
- Thoroughly pat dry the area using a clean, soft towel.
- Repeat twice daily.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another natural home remedy for HS. It has very strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that effectively reduces pain and inflammation.
Also, it can promote wound healing by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.
- Cut open an aloe vera leaf and extract the fresh gel.
- Apply this gel on the affected area.
- Rub it for some time, so that the gel penetrates deep into the skin.
- Allow it to dry on its own.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a day until the condition has improved.
7. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is effective against different skin problems, including HS. Its antiseptic, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties help treat HS and prevent further infections.
- Grind a handful of neem leaves into a paste. Apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off.
- Also, you can boil neem leaves in water until the quantity of water reduces to one-third. Use this water to rinse the affected area.
- Another option is to add a few drops of pure neem oil to 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and apply it to affected area. You do not need to rinse it off.
Follow any of these remedies 2 or 3 times a day for a few weeks.
8. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol has disinfectant, soothing and cooling properties. It will help remove dirt from the clogged hair follicles, which in turn will promote healing. It will also give respite from the pain and discomfort associated with HS.
Note: Before using rubbing alcohol, be sure you don’t have any open bumps or wounds.
- Soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently dab it on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 30 minutes, then wash the affected area with lukewarm water.
- Follow up with a light moisturizer or aloe vera gel.
- Do this twice daily.
Honey is the strongest natural antibiotic and has special antibacterial properties. When applied directly on skin, it reduces inflammation and facilitates the healing process.
Also, it works as a gentle yet deep cleanser, so scarring will not occur on affected area.
- Dip a cotton ball in honey, preferably manuka honey.
- Apply it generously on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Wash it off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times a day for effective results.
10. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Apart from the above mentioned remedies, you need to eat more anti-inflammatory foods. It will help prevent or alleviate the pain and swelling caused by this condition. According to a 2007 study published in Dermatology, zinc can work as a great anti-inflammatory for the treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa.
- Include salmon, tuna, flaxseeds and walnuts that are high in omega-3 fats in your diet. You can also take fish oil supplements. Also, eat zinc rich foods like oyster, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
- Switch to green tea instead of coffee.
- Eat more papayas, broccoli, sweet potatoes and other leafy greens and seasonal varieties.
- Stay away from beef, wheat, tomatoes, peppers, grains and eggplant.
- If you are obese, losing weight may be the most effective way to control HS. Excess weight increases the number of areas where skin rubs together.
- Do not try to squeeze the pus out of the boils, as it may give way to an infection and delay the healing process.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes, including underwear, to reduce friction.
- Do not wear clothes with tight waistbands or form-fitting clothes, as they tend to rub against your skin and can cause HS to flare up.
- Wear clothes made of cotton, as this fabric lets your skin breathe, which in turn helps prevent excessive sweating.
- Quit smoking to reduce HS flare-ups as well as inflammation.
- Do not shave where you have breakouts, as it can further irritate the skin.