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Living with a long-term condition like hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can be tough emotionally. You might feel like people won’t understand what you’re dealing with. But there are good ways to handle any stress and keep yourself feeling good.

Talk to Others

You may have spent years trying to hide your symptoms, and think they’re too embarrassing to talk about. But people who care about you are an important source of support.

Be open with your family and close friends about what you feel, physically and emotionally. It’s natural to fear what others might say. But keeping things inside only adds to your stress. Also, consider other ways to handle your situation.

Plan how you’d like to explain your condition to an acquaintance or respond to a comment from a stranger. Practice saying it to family or friends until you feel comfortable. It may help to let people know that HS isn’t contagious and has nothing to do with bad hygiene.

Talk to Yourself

For some people, HS brings feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression. It can be hard to stop negative thoughts once they start. Try these strategies:

Acknowledge your feelings. Notice what emotions you’re having, and know that it’s OK to feel them.

Learn your triggers. Pay attention to the things that bring on negative thoughts and emotions. Maybe you can avoid them.

Challenge negative thoughts. Ask yourself if you might be wrong, or if there’s another way to look at the issue.

Be kind to yourself. Think about what you’d tell your best friend if they said the same things about herself.

Don’t turn to alcohol, drugs, or food for comfort.

Get Good Help

It can take someone years to find out that they have hidradenitis suppurativa. Some people are too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about their symptoms. It’s also easy to mistake HS for a different skin problem. Getting the right diagnosis can be a relief.

It can also be hard to find the right treatment. Be open with your doctor about your symptoms and how they affect your daily life. It may help to write down what you want to talk about. And speak up if you don’t get relief. You may need to find a doctor who specializes in HS.

Take Control

HS can bring unpredictable flare-ups. Take positive steps to feel more in control:

Get to a healthy weight. People who are obese are more likely to have HS. Losing weight can keep it in check. It also lowers your chances of having other health problems and may help you feel better in general.

Stop smoking.

Watch what you eat. Ask your doctor if any specific foods might make your HS worse.

Exercise. Even if you may have pain and trouble moving, stay as active as possible. Exercise can slow HS down and make you feel better.

Care for yourself. Keep track of what helps your HS and what seems to make it worse, and come up with a plan to manage your flare-ups. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and take any medicines they prescribe.

Show Sources


Acta Dermato-Venereologica: “Psychosocial Impact of Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Qualitative Study.”

Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals: “Living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Hidradenitis Suppurativa.”

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Hidradenitis Suppurativa.”

Best Practice & Research: Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology: “Hidradenitis suppurativa.”

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: “The natural history of hidradenitis suppurativa.”

National Health Service: “Hidradenitis Suppurativa.”

Medscape: “Hidradenitis Suppurativa.”