Hidradenitis Suppurativa Exercise Guide: Tips for Managing Symptoms During Workouts

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) presents challenges for physical activity due to painful abscesses in sensitive areas. Despite this, regular exercise can alleviate symptoms and enhance overall health. Individuals with HS may face hurdles like pain, limited mobility, and self-consciousness during workouts. However, Hidradenitis Suppurativa Exercise routines can make physical activity more manageable and beneficial. In this article, discover seven practical tips to facilitate working out with HS, empowering individuals to overcome obstacles and incorporate exercise into their HS management plan. From pain management strategies to boosting confidence, these tips aim to make exercise a positive and integral part of living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

a young woman pointing her finger to the side.
Hidradenitis suppurativa exercise guide: tips for managing symptoms during workouts

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Exercise Guide:

Use Appropriate Clothing and Gear

Wearing comfortable clothing and appropriate gear can help reduce friction, irritation, and sweating, which can aggravate HS symptoms. Choose loose-fitting, breathable fabrics such as cotton or moisture-wicking materials that can wick away sweat. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, seams, and tags that can rub against the skin and cause friction. Consider wearing compression garments, which can provide support and reduce friction. Additionally, wear appropriate footwear that fits well and provides adequate support and cushioning.

Choose Low-Impact Exercises

Low-impact exercises can help reduce the strain on joints and prevent further damage to the skin. Activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking on a treadmill are excellent low-impact exercises that can improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and reduce stress. Yoga and stretching exercises can also help improve flexibility, reduce tension, and promote relaxation.

Warm-Up and Cool Down

Warming up and cooling down before and after exercising can help prevent injuries, reduce muscle soreness, and improve circulation. Start with a few minutes of light cardio, such as walking or cycling, to increase blood flow and elevate your heart rate. Then, perform some dynamic stretching exercises that involve moving the joints through their full range of motion, such as leg swings and arm circles. After your workout, cool down by performing some static stretching exercises, such as hamstring stretches and quad stretches, to help reduce muscle tension and improve flexibility.

Gradually Increase Intensity and Duration

Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts can help prevent injuries and build endurance. Start with shorter workouts, such as 10-15 minutes, and gradually increase the time and intensity as your fitness level improves. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, too fast, as this can lead to injury and aggravate HS symptoms. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining optimal health and preventing dehydration, which can worsen HS symptoms. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine, which can dehydrate you. If you’re exercising outdoors in hot weather, consider wearing a hat and using sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun.

Practice Good Hygiene

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent infections and reduce the risk of HS flare-ups. Shower or bathe before and after exercising to remove sweat, bacteria, and debris from your skin. Use mild, fragrance-free soap and avoid harsh scrubbing, which can irritate the skin. After your workout, change into clean, dry clothes to reduce friction and moisture. Avoid sharing towels or personal items with others, as this can increase the risk of infection.

Find a Supportive Community

Living with HS can be isolating, but finding a supportive community can help you feel less alone and more motivated to exercise. Joining a local gym, fitness class, or support group can provide you with the opportunity to connect with others who understand your struggles and share similar interests. You can also find online communities and forums where you can connect with others, share tips and advice, and ask for support.

a group of people with hidradenitis suppurativa sitting on a couch.
Hidradenitis suppurativa exercise guide: tips for managing symptoms during workouts


Working out with HS can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can manage your symptoms and improve your overall health. Use appropriate clothing and gear, choose low-impact exercises, warm-up and cool down, gradually increase intensity and duration, stay hydrated, practice good hygiene, and find a supportive community. Always listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. With patience and perseverance, you can achieve your fitness goals and improve your quality of life.

Join us in our mission to improve the lives of those managing hidradenitis suppurativa. Support the Canadian Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation by donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about this chronic skin disease. Together, let’s make a positive impact on the lives of those living with HS.