Blocked Hair Follicles: What You Can Do at Home

Your doctor has medicines to treat the red, painful bumps that come from blocked hair follicles causing hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). A few home remedies can also help clear your skin and prevent new breakouts.

Relief for the bumps could be as simple as making a few changes in your life or to your daily routine. Here are some things to try.

Lose extra weight. Sometimes it works even better than medicine for clearing up blocked hair follicles. You don't have to lose a lot to see a difference. Trim just 10% of your body weight.

Quit smoking. Another reason to kick the habit. Smoking doesn't cause blocked hair follicles, but it can irritate your skin. When you quit, you'll probably notice fewer flare-ups.

Wear loose clothes. Bumps often form in areas where your skin rubs together, such as your armpits or between your buttocks. Tight clothes cause even more friction and irritation. Wear loose-fitting ones, including underwear, to ease pressure on the bumps. Natural fabrics such as cotton are better than man-made ones like polyester and nylon.

Stay cool. Blocked hair follicles can flare up when you get overheated or you sweat. If the bumps are under your arms, use an antiperspirant to stay dry. Just be careful which kind you choose. Some have chemicals that irritate your skin even more. Ask your doctor to recommend a gentle, scent-free product.

Don't shave. Shaving under your arms or anywhere else you have bumps can trigger breakouts. Your doctor can suggest a gentler way to remove hair.

Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise, and avoid stress to help prevent flare-ups.

Ask about supplements. Scientists have done a few studies on how supplements like zinc, vitamin B12, copper, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) affect HS. Zinc might help the condition, but researchers need more evidence to know for sure. Talk to your doctor before you take any vitamin or supplement to make sure it's safe.

Keep the area clean. Blocked sweat glands can get infected if you have bacteria on your skin. Try these ways to avoid infections:

  • Clean yourself with an antibacterial wash. Or try an acne treatment to cut the amount of bacteria on your skin.
  • Take a bleach bath. Mix about 1/2 cup of bleach into the tub water. Soak your body (but not your head) for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and pat your skin dry.

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Tips to Relieve Painful Bumps

If your bumps get irritated and sore, try these things to feel better:

  • Wet a washcloth in hot water. Hold this warm compress to the area for 10 minutes to bring down swelling. Or, seep a tea bag in hot water and hold it on the area for 10 minutes.
  • If the sores are on your buttocks, try a sitz bath. Run a few inches of warm water in the tub. Sit in the water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Take an over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.

If Home Remedies Don't Help

They should be just one part of your treatment. Your doctor will also prescribe medicines to clear up breakouts and prevent new ones.

Call your doctor if your treatment doesn't work and the bumps still bother you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on October 17, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Tips."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Hidradenitis Suppurativa -- Prevention," "Hidradenitis Suppurativa -- Treatment."

Domino, Frank J. The 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 2014.

Smokefree.gov: "What's Your Reason to Quit?"

The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Trust: "Common Questions and Answers."

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