If you have hidradenitis suppurativa, you're probably very familiar with the lumpy abscesses that can develop during a flare. Often unsightly, the affected areas can become severely inflamed and even infected. In advanced cases, lesions may need to be removed by a surgeon to prevent it from spreading. This can make the condition seem overwhelming—so if you've been here yourself, you're not alone. While there's no cure for hidradenitis suppurativa, topical ointments like steroid creams and certain medications can sometimes offer relief. Certain natural remedies and formulas can also help to relieve your symptoms, too. While the home remedies in this article won't cure you, they can help you to manage the symptoms more effectively on a day-to-day basis.
Tea Tree Oil
With astringent properties and a mild ability to relieve inflammation, tea tree oil is very well suited to treating the symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa. The essential oil can be purchased from most natural supplement stores or ordered online. While it should not be used on abscesses or cysts that have broken open, it can go a long way to soothing the inflammation most patients experience beforehand.
To use it: Coat a clean cotton makeup pad with a thin layer of tea tree oil. Dab it over the affected area up to three times per day. Do not rinse the oil off.
It's important to note that some tea tree oil formulas come with fragrances or other essential oils--avoid this whenever possible. A pure tea tree oil is best for treating skin conditions and will reduce the chance of side effects.
Carbolic soap has been around for hundreds of years. Formulated with carbolic acid, everyone from military surgeons to Victorian belles used it to stay clean. With mild astringent and antiseptic properties, it helps to kill off bacteria that live on the surface of the skin.
While you won't find carbolic soap in hospitals anymore--mostly thanks to the introduction of safer and milder antiseptic drugs--it's still very much used in disaster situations and home management of skin conditions. This includes hidradenitis suppurativa.
To use it: Easily purchased at any natural product store, you simply use it as you would any other bar of soap on and around the affected area. Rinse well after use and gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.
If you've heard that carbolic acid itself can be poisonous if ingested, have no fear: when formulated into a bar of soap and used externally a few times a day, it's perfectly safe for most individuals. For safety's sake, keep it out of reach of children and pets and don't use it anywhere near orifices. If you notice any irritation, stop using carbolic soap immediately.
Epsom Salts (Magnesium Salts)
Most people know epsom salts for their ability to relax and soothe aching muscles when added to a hot bath. While this is true, epsom salts can also be very effective at treating certain skin conditions, too. Much like salt, magnesium salts have the ability to draw infection out of the skin. They can also help to dry up small cysts.
When treating hidradenitis suppurativa, you want to use a pure epsom salt that's free of fragrance or essential oils for best results. Just plain magnesium salts are best!
To use it: Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to a warm but not hot bath. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, ensuring that the affected area is submerged at all times. Alternatively, fill a large pot with 4 liters of hot water and 4 tablespoons of epsom salts. Stir until dissolved. Soak a facecloth in the solution and use it as a compress for five to 10 minutes a few times a day.
Overall, magnesium salts are one of the safest and easiest ways to sooth your skin. As an added bonus, you'll also have an excellent excuse to escape for a nice, long bath once in a while!
Managing the difficult symptoms that come with hidradenitis suppurativa can be a challenge for almost any patient. Because researchers don't fully understand all of the variables that contribute to it, treatment is often trial and error and can encompass much more than medication or surgical intervention. If you have questions about whether the skin care remedies listed above are right for your unique situation, contact your dermatologist for advice today.