There are a lot of great doctors out there, and they can help you. It is a complicated question because there are so many factors involved. But let’s start with what does not cause HS, because it is so important that you know that having HS is not your fault, no matter what you have been told previously.
HS is not caused by poor hygiene. This is one of the most brutal things that may have been said to you. And if you have been told that before, I am sorry you had to experience that, and it might be time to see a new doctor.
Being overweight or smoking did not cause your HS. They may be a contributing factor or a trigger to your HS, and you may be able to reduce symptoms by quitting. Either way, if you want to give your body the best chance of healing and recovery, it might be the right time to take action if you feel you want to. You are in control of what goes into your body, and it might be time to take back that control and use it to benefit your health.
HS is not contagious or sexually transmitted. It is so important to understand that. You did not catch this, and you cannot spread it.
You have not caused this by using a certain product or shaving/waxing your body hair.
There seem to be lots of different potential causes and contributing factors:
Inflammation is the body’s response to an irritant. This irritant is usually a bacteria, or maybe a bee sting or a mosquito bite. It might be a chemical agent, or a burn, or it could be pollen. Your body is equipped to deal with a lot, and to protect you from harm. Your immune system is amazing, and when it is working correctly inflammation protects you from harm and helps you to heal.
Different organs and glands in your body produce immune cells. And different immune cells have different jobs to do when fighting an irritant. When damage occurs to your body, special cells sound the alarm, and signal to other cells that help is needed. It is a complex and incredible sequence of signals, cell production and destruction, and so much more! It is like a mini battle going on inside your body.
A normal immune response will cause inflammation, which will subside when the threat is resolved, and the battle is over. But in HS, for some reason, there is a malfunction in the immune system, which means we can get stuck in this inflammatory process. The immune cells are not behaving the way they should be, and they can start to damage our body. It’s not fully understood what may cause the inflammation to begin, or why it gets out of control.
There are things that we know for sure can cause inflammation in the body, this may not be the direct cause of the HS but may be a contributing factor. Things like smoking, sugar, unhealthy fats, exposure to chemicals, and even sleep deprivation can cause inflammation. Even if these are not contributing factors or triggers for our HS, it is better to avoid these irritants for your overall health and wellbeing.
Some people find that eating an anti-inflammatory diet helps them with their HS symptoms, and others have noticed a difference when they quit smoking. Some people have been able to identify triggers that cause inflammation in their body and try to avoid them. Keeping a symptom diary could be helpful for tracking your HS flares and if you can see any patterns emerge.