Hidradenitis Suppurativa, often shortened to HS, is a chronic skin condition that causes bumps, lesions and wounds that form near hair follicles under the skin. There are three stages starting from a mild form with a bump or two that fill with pus and moving up to severe symptoms of abscesses forming, tunnels or sinus tracts joining, infections and scarring. Because there is no cure, all treatments help to manage or reduce the symptoms and complications that come with HS. That includes medical support, emotional support as well as making certain lifestyle changes like adopting a Hidradenitis Suppurativa diet.
Complications That Come From Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)
Complications are more likely in people with stage 2 or 3 flare-ups. They include but are not limited to;
Abscesses and Drainage: Areas that are prone to HS are prone to forming deep pockets of exudate in the form of abscesses that need careful treatment, as well as medication from a doctor to treat. The wounds are slow and difficult to heal, and can sometimes become infected.
A Change In How Your Skin Appears: Scarring is common after the wounds eventually heal and pitted skin is also a problem.
Difficulty Moving: The sores, wounds and scar tissue can all add up,making it hard to move and painful to move, especially when it is affecting the thighs and armpits. Arthritis is also a complication that some people with HS have to deal with.
Fistulas: fistulas are when the tunnels or passages join together beneath the wounds. Since HS often flares where there are lymph nodes their drainage can be negatively affected by the scar tissue.
Anxiety, Depression and Isolation: It is not uncommon in people with Hidradenitis Suppurativa to struggle with these things as the condition impacts their appearance, their self-confidence, keeps them indoors and makes them feel things like embarrassment and even shame.
What Can You Do?
Some coping tips include:
Finding a support group, counselor or therapist you can talk to about your emotions and struggles. Sometimes these people will have real experience and can offer useful advice and sometimes they are a great and safe place you can unload to.
Look at ways to manage your stress, that might be via medication but you can also consider things like meditation, keeping a journal or changing somethings in your life like a Hidradenitis Suppurativa diet.
Keep your family and friends aware of what is happening physically and emotionally so they can be there to support you, rather than pushing people away.
Find a good doctor. Sometimes that might mean pushing for a specialist or getting referrals until you find someone you are happy with and feel are listening to you. Let them help manage your pain and properly care for your wounds.
As a person with HS has to deal with flare-ups, periods where symptoms are worse, and they are unpredictable it can leave people struggling not just with the physical symptoms but also feelings of being out of control, depression and shame. The right medical team, a good Hidradenitis Suppurativa diet, and good support can make a lot of difference when coping with the complications of HS.
HS can last for years, but early treatment can help you feel better and lower the risk of flare-ups.
In severe cases, hidradenitis suppurativa can get worse and cause scars. Surgery can help, although the disease comes back about one-third of the time. It’s still important to keep up with lifestyle changes that can make you feel better.
Turn to people you trust to give you the backing you need while you get treated. You might join a support group where you can talk freely with people who understand your situation. Ask your doctor about how to find a group near you.
Talk to your close family and friends about your condition, or consider seeing a professional counselor. They can help make sure you don’t let your skin problems keep you from enjoying an active social life.
You can learn more about your condition on the website of the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation.
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