Last week we talked about things that can make HS worse and how to deal with them. But HS can affect us in many ways and not all of them are to do with flare-ups. There are strategies we can use to manage our condition better overall.
So, it should come as no surprise when I say we must prioritise our mental and physical health equally. In this post, we are going to look at four ways to look after our mental health as well as five ways to support our physical health.
Talk to a Professional
There is no shame in needing someone to talk to. Unfortunately, not everyone can speak to those closest to them. Again, no shame, this is how it is sometimes. In this case, you may decide to find a therapist.
Therapists are more than strangers; they are an ally. They are there just for you when you need them. And whatever you say stays with them. As an outsider, they can help you find perspective. If you have the resources, think about it.
Find ways to deal with stress
Stress can be toxic. Last time we have talked about the role of cortisol in regulating inflammation. Try taking a yoga or meditation class. Still in lockdown? There are plenty of great courses online. Local studios sometimes run online courses in yoga and meditation classes. Failing that YouTube has some fantastic, accessible instructors.
If that doesn’t sound good, taking up a new hobby can be therapeutic. I love crafts and books. Other people find walking or puzzles soothing. We have a whole article with ideas if you are stuck.
Connect with others who have HS
I cannot emphasise enough the power of peer support. Just knowing you are not alone is something. But connecting with other people who have HS helps you get management ideas. And providing support to others will show you how capable you are. So that you know, you are capable!
Did you know HidraWear have an online support group? You can join here.
Surround yourself with a healthy support system.
Even if your friends and family don’t have HS, they can still be supportive. They can listen when you need them to. Or help you with lifestyle changes you may make. I am a big fan of having a walking partner or kitchen buddy. And research shows that people are more likely to adopt healthy behaviours with support than without.
Try to identify potential food triggers
For some people, certain foods may exacerbate HS. Dairy, sugar, and brewer’s yeast are the usual suspects. My advice would be to cut one at a time. If you stop eating all your potential triggers, you won’t know which one(s) are making things worse.
Giving up certain foods can be challenging. So, make sure you find foods that might help and find some fun recipes to try. Remember what I said about kitchen buddies; make it fun!
Create a wardrobe full of comfortable clothes
I love jeans. But jeans don’t always love me. When I have a flare-up, I have to change how I dress. Tight clothes are out, and loose, breathable fabrics are in. Build yourself a wardrobe of clothing you love to wear and won’t aggravate your HS. Some people find leggings comfortable for lesions on the groin or thighs. In the summer, skirts are an excellent choice. Just avoid tights. For lesions under the breasts, underwires can be uncomfortable. So why not try a bralette instead.
Use only gentle cleansers and moisturisers
Some cleansers and moistures can irritate the skin. And the last thing you need is irritation as well as inflammation. So, make sure that what you are using suits you.
Look for natural products, without harsh chemicals. And avoid using any unnecessary products on or near lesions. Also, help your skin-care products out. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of green vegetables.
Use hot water or a wet, warm compress to relieve itching and pain
In my opinion, this is the best at-home treatment for HS lesions. The warm water helps pus come to the top of a boil. And reduce itching and pain.
Try using a compress on a flare-up three times a day. And make sure your cloth is clean so as not to spread bacteria.
Use HidraWear dressings
HidraWear dressings are made especially for HS wounds. The places we tend to flare present a challenge for traditional dressings. These tend to come off areas like underarms or groin. And the adhesive can irritate sensitive parts of the body.
HidraWear dressings are made from micro modal, which is 50% more absorbent than cotton. Thus, it reduces leaks. HidraWear dressings are held in place by the AX garment. Currently, the AX garment is only made for women, but that will change pretty soon.
So, there you have it. If you need more ideas to check out the HidraWear blog and sign up to the newsletter below.
About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is MA student in Community Research & Journalism from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing and hidradenitis suppurativa.