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:
See a professional counselor for help with your feelings and to find ways to handle stress.
Look for a support group or online forum. You can share your experience with people who know what you’re going through. They may have tips on how to deal with the things you’re worried about.
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 she 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.
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.
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. Many people find swimming keeps them fit and also soothes their skin.
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.