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8 Hygiene Tips for People Living With Hidradenitis Suppurativa

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For most people, practicing good hygiene is important for their physical and mental health. But, for people who have chronic skin conditions, taking care of their hygiene while managing their condition can be a complicated, not-so-straightforward task.

One of these chronic skin conditions is hidradenitis suppurativa. Hidradenitis suppurativa is an inflammatory chronic skin disease that causes painful bumps to form on a person’s skin. Some people with hidradenitis suppurativa face the judgment from others who do not understand what it is like to live with this condition. Mighty contributor Andie Robinson shared in a post what she wants to say to people who judge what her skin looks like:

I’m not dirty. Let’s be real: I probably wash my underarms more often than you. I use acne soap and mild soap and cleansing wipes and whatever I need to in an effort to keep it clean and pain-free. That doesn’t always work.

We asked members of the Mighty’s community who have hidradenitis suppurativa about what hygiene tips that they have for others with their condition. If you have or think you might have hidradenitis suppurativa, some of these strategies and ideas could help you thrive with this chronic skin condition.

Here is what people living with hidradenitis suppurativa shared:


Always make sure to wash your hands before doing skincare! Hands collect so many germs that can cause irritation and inflammation or infection. Clean hands prior to any skincare routine or flare maintenance will help cut down on potential infections from outside bacteria. — Cindi R.

For people who live with hidradenitis suppurativa, finding out your triggers for HS flares is an important step to manage this condition. Even if you are not sure what these triggers are, making sure your hands are clean when doing skincare could help prevent or lessen abscesses and fistulas.


I bathe with regular shower gel, then in my HS prone areas, I use antibacterial soap. — Angie S.

Antibacterial soap contains chemical ingredients not found in regular soap that assist with killing bacteria. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is not enough evidence on whether over-the-counter antibacterial soap is safer than regular soap. If you are questioning which soap is best for HS, you should consult with your doctor.


I stopped shaving areas that tend to flare up because of the potential bacteria and irritation a razor might bring. — Noreen C.

Irritation to a person who has HS’s skin could trigger a flare. If shaving with a razor causes abscesses and fistulas to appear or increase, then finding an alternative to this or stopping to shave could help you manage your symptoms.


I keep most of mine bandaged using tape, gauze, pads and either sterile water or antibiotic cream. I change them one to two times a day and shower daily and air out in front of a fan after reapplying bandages. This keeps them as dry as possible while also protecting my clothing and furniture. — Tiffany S.

Abscesses and fistulas can rupture and release puss. In order to stop the puss from getting on your clothes, you could you use tape, gauze and pads, as Tiffany recommended, to stop the wetness from drainage interrupting your day.


Spray deodorant or wipes instead of traditional deodorant. — Liz P.

Just like with shaving, the effect of using deodorant directly on your skin could lead to irritation. Some alternatives that you could use to stay fresh during the day are spray deodorant or wipes. For people whose HS is triggered by certain chemicals found in spray deodorants or wipes, speaking to doctors to find alternatives could be helpful.


Don’t pick at blackheads! Try to only open flares when absolutely necessary for pain relief and if any sort of infection is present, call or see a doctor. — Cindi R.

One of the most common symptoms of HS are blackheads, along with painful pea-sized lumps and tunnels, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s understandable if you want to pick at blackheads – many people who have blackheads, whether or not that have HS, do too! Cindi recommends avoiding this action because it could open flares.


I’ve been prescribed a [medication to take] once per day, a peroxide wash once per day and [antibiotic] wipes, twice per day. — Kristi Y.

When living with a chronic skin condition like HS, you may find that using different methods to keep your hygiene in check could help you. You could talk to your medical team about what different things you can do throughout the day to help manage your HS.


I highly suggest laser hair removal to reduce the amount of infections. – Annastasia L.

If you still want to shave and find that shaving with a razor triggers your HS, you could try laser hair removal like Annastasia recommends. While taking care of a chronic skin condition can seem life-changing, it does not mean you have to change all your hygiene habits completely — you could just find alternatives and hacks that work for you.

Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for clarity.

For more insight on HS, check out these stories from our Mighty community:

Illustration via Getty Images

Originally published: September 1, 2020
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