5 Things that can Worsen Hidradenitis Suppurativa Flare-ups – and How to Deal with Them

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a chronic skin disease that can profoundly impact your quality of life. The condition causes recurrent boils and abscesses in the underarms, groin, buttocks, and other areas. These flare-ups can be extremely painful and cause significant swelling. While there is no cure for HS, there are ways to manage the condition and keep Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups under control. Here are five things that can trigger an HS flare-up – and what you can do to prevent them.

a person is typing on a computer keyboard while experiencing hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups.
5 things that can worsen hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups – and how to deal with them

1. Sweating

Excessive sweating can cause your skin to become blocked, leading to Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups. If you suffer from HS, it’s important to stay cool and dry as much as possible. When your body temperature rises, try to take a cool shower or wrap a cold compress around the affected area. You should also avoid tight-fitting clothing that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. Instead, opt for loose-fitting, natural fabrics like cotton.

2. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy can trigger Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups. If you’re going through any of these life stages, it’s important to be extra vigilant about managing your HS symptoms. In addition to taking steps to prevent sweat and skin irritation (as mentioned above), you may also want to talk to your doctor about taking oral antibiotics or other medications to help keep your symptoms under control.

3. Stress

While the exact cause of HS is unknown, researchers believe that stress may play a role in triggering flare-ups. If you suffer from HS, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress levels. This might include exercise, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. You should also avoid triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods, as they can worsen stress.

4. Smoking

Smoking is a known risk factor for many chronic conditions – and HS is no exception. If you smoke cigarettes, chances are you’ll experience more frequent and severe Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – and your HS symptoms will also improve. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking aids like nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications that can help you quit for good.

5. Weight gain

Excessive weight gain can strain your skin and sweat glands, worsening HS symptoms. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even a few pounds can make a big difference. Aim for slow and steady weight loss by tweaking your diet and exercise routine. Also, reducing calories while increasing physical activity will help you reach a healthy weight safely. And once you lose weight, you will likely see your hidradenitis Suppurativa symptoms improve.

a person's leg experiencing hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups, characterized by red spots.
5 things that can worsen hidradenitis suppurativa flare-ups – and how to deal with them

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Flare-ups – Final Thoughts

Well, everyone’s body is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for managing HS flare-ups. So, work with your healthcare provider to track your symptoms and Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups to find an effective way to manage the condition.

And there’s one important thing you should know – you didn’t cause HS, and those regular breakouts aren’t your fault. Adopting healthy habits like regular exercise, managing your stress level through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, and prioritizing good nutrition and adequate sleep are key strategies for preventing or reducing Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups in people with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.


Can poor hygiene cause HS flare-ups?

Poor hygiene habits can also be a major contributing factor to Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups and worsening symptoms. Keeping the affected areas clean and dry is essential in preventing bacteria growth, which can lead to painful infections in the affected areas. Be sure to regularly wash with gentle cleansers, allow the skin to air dry completely before applying any ointments or creams, and avoid touching affected areas with dirty hands as much as possible.

Can poor diet worsen HS flare-ups?

In addition to stress, poor diet is another common lifestyle factor contributing to flare-ups in people with Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fats has been linked to inflammation and other chronic conditions, leading to worsened HS symptoms. Therefore, it is important to focus on consuming a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids.

Can lack of sleep or poor quality sleep worsen HS flare-ups?

Another lifestyle factor that can make Hidradenitis Suppurativa flare-ups worse is a lack of quality sleep. Getting enough sleep each night is crucial for maintaining good physical and mental health and controlling inflammation levels in the body. If you struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders that prevent you from getting adequate sleep each night, it is important to seek treatment to help manage your symptoms better.