Common Triggers of Hidradenitis Suppurativa and How to Prevent Them | Body & Mind

Tight-fitting clothing

Everyone loves an athleisure moment, but these types of close-fitting clothing might be doing more harm than they’re worth. The friction caused by tight, synthetic clothing could be irritating your HS lesions further. “Stick to loose-fitting clothing to minimize friction on the skin,” suggests Zeichner. This is probably a great time to pull out that matching, comfy, loose-fitting loungewear set. Also, it’s suggested to avoid bras that contain underwires and underwear made with tight elastics, if you can.

Bacteria and inflammation

When it comes to HS, don’t overlook the power of an effective body cleanser. “Stick to antimicrobial cleansers, like Hibiclens in the groin, under breasts, and in the armpit areas to keep bacteria levels low and minimize the risk of infections or flares of the condition,” says Zeichner.

Depending on what stage your HS might be in, your dermatologist may give you topical or oral medications or provide you with cortisone injections to treat inflamed bumps. “There is one FDA-approved treatment for moderate to severe cases of [HS] called Humira,” says Zeichner. “This injectable biologic medication works by lowering levels of the immune signals in the body that cause the skin inflammation.”

Hot, humid weather

As if our skin doesn’t go through enough stress during the summer months (think oily skin, more acne, and painful sunburns), heat and humidity might also be making your HS worse, too. If you live in a hot or humid climate, consider controlling the temperature in your living space with an air conditioner or fan. Keeping your skin dry and sweat-free while at home may help prevent further HS lesions from popping up.

Antiperspirants

Speaking of staying sweat-free, antiperspirants have been known to irritate underarms, and if you’re prone to HS in your pits, you’ll want to avoid antiperspirants if possible. “In some cases, antiperspirants can be irritating,” says Zeichner. “Plus, antiperspirants work by forming a plug within the sweat glands, which theoretically, can make matters worse.” Instead, Zeichner suggests sticking with a deodorant, rather than an antiperspirant, to neutralize body odor.

Shaving

If you can tolerate shaving over HS lesions, Zeichner says to go for it, but there are other options you should consider in order to remove unwanted body or facial hair without having to deal with a sharp razor. “Shaving under the arms is OK if you can tolerate it. However, I often recommend permanent hair removal options like laser hair removal to minimize irritation or inflammation in those areas,” says Zeichner. 

However, laser hair removal isn’t the best option for everyone, considering how pricey it can get, how time-consuming it can be, and the fact that it isn’t compatible for all skin tones and hair colors, unfortunately. That being said, investing in laser hair removal in the areas where you have HS could minimize discomfort significantly.

Stress

Just like with many inflammatory skin conditions (looking at you, acne), stress might be contributing to your inflamed HS condition. Practice stress-reducing techniques to help prevent HS flare-ups, such as meditation, mindfulness, journaling, or anything else that might help you relax.

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