7 Gentle Skin Care Tips to Soothe Hidradenitis Suppurativa Flares


Hey there, friend. If you’re living with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), you know how tough it can be to deal with those painful, swollen bumps that pop up on your skin.


Trust me, I’ve been there! The good news is, there are some simple things you can do to take extra good care of your skin and hopefully keep those HS flares at bay.

Top 7 Gentle Skin Care Tips to Soothe Hidradenitis Suppurativa Flares

Hidradenitis Suppurativa Skin Care Tips That Can Help Flare-Ups

Pic Credit: Bayviewgeneralmedicine.com

Let’s dive in and talk about the top 7 skin care tips that might just make a difference for you.


What is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

First things first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what HS is. Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin condition that causes deep, painful lumps to form under the skin, usually in areas where skin rubs together, like the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.

These lumps can sometimes burst open and leak fluid. Ouch!

The tricky thing about HS is that it’s caused by an overactive immune system attacking your hair follicles, not by anything you did wrong with your skincare routine. So please, don’t blame yourself! Even if you’re doing everything “right,” HS flares can still happen.

With that said, there are ways to be extra gentle with your skin that may help reduce inflammation and prevent infections. Here are the top tips to try:


1. Consider using a germ-fighting body wash

Since HS sores are prone to infection, washing with an antibacterial cleanser can be helpful. Look for washes with ingredients like:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Zinc pyrithione (the dandruff-fighting stuff)

Start by using it just once a week to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin, then work up to every day if your skin tolerates it well. If you’re not sure which wash to choose, ask your dermatologist for recommendations.

2. Avoid scrubbing the area

I know it’s tempting to want to scrub HS bumps squeaky clean, especially if they’re leaking fluid or smell a bit funky. But trust me, a gentle touch is so much better! Scrubbing too hard can:

  • Trigger more inflammation
  • Open up sores and cuts
  • Let in bacteria that could cause an infection

Instead of using a loofah or washcloth, try lathering up with just your hands and rinsing with water. Pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel. Treat your skin like the delicate flower that it is!


3. Be careful with hair removal

Okay, let’s talk body hair. Whether you like to go smooth as a dolphin or rock a full bush, you do you! Just know that HS tends to pop up in hair-bearing areas, so having less hair around might help keep things in check.

The catch is that certain hair removal methods can make HS worse by causing tiny skin tears that get inflamed. Shaving and waxing are common culprits. If you do shave, try to:

  • Only shave in the direction hair grows
  • Use a fresh, sharp blade each time
  • Never shave over active HS bumps

An even better option might be laser hair removal, which destroys hair follicles and can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Just make sure to talk with your dermatologist first to see if it’s right for your skin.

4. Use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products

When you’ve got open HS sores, the last thing you want is to slather on a heavily scented lotion or deodorant that burns like the dickens. Ouch, no thank you! To avoid irritation, look for products that are:

  • Fragrance-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Alcohol-free

This goes for everything from body wash to moisturizer to sunscreen. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your dermatologist for a few recs. They’ll steer you in the right direction!

5. Soothe inflammation with heat—or ice

When an HS flare has you feeling sore and swollen, a little temperature therapy can work wonders. Heat seems to be the fan favorite for easing pain and helping pus-filled bumps drain on their own. You can try:

  • Soaking a washcloth in hot water and holding it on the area for 10 minutes
  • Pressing a warm tea bag against the bump (bonus: the tannins in tea can be anti-inflammatory)
  • Take a warm shower and let the water hit the sore spots, then gently press on the bumps to help them drain

On the flip side, if heat feels like too much, you might prefer an ice cube wrapped in a thin towel to numb the pain. Ahh, sweet relief! Just don’t leave it on too long or let it directly touch your skin, or you could end up damaging your skin.

6. Avoid sweaty situations

Sweat is like fuel for HS flares. It can make bumps more inflamed and painful, especially in those warm, damp areas where skin likes to rub together. To keep sweat in check:

  • Choose workouts you can do in cooler temps, like swimming or walking in an air-conditioned mall instead of hot yoga or running outside on a scorching day
  • Use an antiperspirant (ask your derm about extra-strength ones if you need it)
  • Change out of sweaty clothes and shower right after working out
  • On sweltering days, stay inside during the middle of the day when temps peak

A little bit of sweat is normal and NBD. But if you can minimize it where your HS tends to flare, your skin will thank you!

7. Reduce friction

The other big HS trigger to watch out for is friction—aka skin rubbing on skin or tight clothes. That constant rubbing can piss off your hair follicles and set off the inflammation that fuels HS flares. No bueno! Some tips:

  • Wear breathable, loose-fitting clothes that won’t constantly chafe (save the skinny jeans for another day)
  • Choose low-friction exercises like swimming, biking, or rowing instead of running or HIIT workouts
  • Apply an anti-chafe balm to spots that tend to rub (between your thighs, under your arms, etc.)
  • If you’ve got some junk in the trunk, invest in some good anti-chafing underwear to keep your bum baby soft

Friction is a sneaky one because you might not even realize how much rubbing is happening as you go about your day. But once you start paying attention, it can make a big difference to minimize it where you can.


Got questions? I’ve got answers! Here are a few things I hear a lot from folks with HS:

  • Can I pop HS bumps on my own?

I know it’s oh-so-tempting to squeeze the living daylights out of those juicy HS bumps, but resist the urge! Trying to pop them at home can lead to:

  • More pain and inflammation
  • Infection from pushing bacteria deeper into the skin
  • Scarring

If a bump is super swollen and painful, put a warm compress on it to help it drain on its own. If it’s not budging, see your derm—they can lance it safely and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

  • Do certain foods trigger HS flares?

The jury is still out on this one. Some people with HS swear that cutting out dairy, sugar, nightshades, or other foods helps keep their skin calm. But so far, there’s no hard scientific evidence showing a clear link between diet and HS symptoms.

The exception might be a high-sugar, high-fat diet—some early research suggests that eating this way could make HS worse by increasing inflammation in the body. But more studies are needed to say for sure.


My take? Pay attention to your own body and notice if you tend to flare more when you eat certain things. If you do, try cutting back on those foods and see what happens. And make sure to let your derm know so they can help you figure out if there’s a connection.

  • How can I cover up HS scars?

I know how frustrating it can be to finally get an HS flare to settle down, only to be left with scars or dark marks. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help them fade faster:

  • Use a silicone scar gel or sheet consistently (ask your derm for recs)
  • Apply a vitamin C serum to help brighten hyperpigmentation
  • Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen every day to keep scars from getting darker
  • Ask your derm about in-office treatments like laser resurfacing or dermal fillers

In the meantime, if you want to camouflage scars for a special event or just to feel more confident, try using:

  • A color-correcting concealer (green cancels out red, yellow covers purple/blue tones)
  • A high-coverage foundation
  • Setting powder to prevent the makeup from rubbing off

Just make sure to remove it gently at the end of the day and give your skin some breathing room!


More to Check Out:


  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Hidradenitis Suppurativa
  2. Clinics in Dermatology, Laser and Intense Pulsed Light in the Treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa


Living with HS can be a real pain in the booty sometimes. But by treating your skin with a little extra TLC, you can help keep those angry flares in check and feel more in control of your condition.


Remember, HS is not your fault—you’re doing amazing, sweetie!

If you ever have questions or feel like you need more support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist or a support group for people with HS (I love the HS Foundation!).

You’re not alone in this, and there are tons of resources out there to help you live your best life with HS. Sending you a big virtual hug!

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