Nonsurgical Treatments for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

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Hidradenitis suppurativa can be very uncomfortable, causing painful bumps under the skin, often in areas where the skin rubs together. While there is no cure for HS, there are many treatment options that can ease symptoms that don't require surgery.

For bumps that are particularly painful and ooze pus, meds like topical antibiotics may help. They treat infections close to the surface of the skin by stopping bacteria from growing. They come in the form of creams, lotions, or gels, and can be applied directly onto the skin. For infections deeper under the skin, oral antibiotics work better. If an infection is not present, antibiotics may still help reduce inflammation.

Another option is oral retinoids. These are drugs made from vitamin A. They go a step further than antibiotics to treat symptoms unrelated to infection. Retinoids target cell growth, getting rid of old skin cells and rebuilding the top layer of skin. If stronger treatments are needed, you may want to try both medications and in-office procedures.

Your doctor might try steroids, which can be injected directly into bumps to lessen pain and inflammation. Another injected treatment is biologics, which can help more severe cases of HS. Biologics are a type of drug made from living organisms like bacteria, yeast, or animal cells. In some cases, the body will produce too many inflammatory-causing proteins. Biologics bind to these proteins and block them from worsening inflammation.

There are many different ways to treat HS and make the condition more manageable. But with some trial and error, you can find the one that works best for you.