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Hidradenitis Suppurativa can make your skin crawl. It itches. It burns. It hurts.

So when a flare turns painful, you want relief -- ASAP. Having some remedies on hand can soothe your sore skin when you need it the most.

Before you do anything, make sure you don’t have a bigger problem on your hands. If the pain is really bad or your skin is red or oozing, call your doctor. That’s a sign of an infection. It can spread and become much worse than a regular flare. You may need an antibiotic.

Otherwise, have your patients try these self-care tips for the pain and itch.

Turn up the heat

The ingredient that makes chili peppers hot can ease the pain. Check your drugstore for products with capsaicin. This can block nerve endings that transmit pain. It may help hidradenitis suppurativa pain, redness, swelling, and other symptoms.

Knock out itch 

Several over-the-counter medications can control itch -- which can feel more like a burning or biting feeling when you have hidradenitis suppurativa. Ask your pharmacist for lotions and creams with pramoxine or menthol. Hydrocortisone, a mild steroid, can help, too.

Resist the urge to scratch. That only makes it worse and can injure your skin, which makes it hurt even more.

Chill out

Cold packs can take the itch out by short-circuiting the itch-scratch cycle. They “confuse” your brain because it’s hard for it to feel itch and cold at the same time.

Take a soak

Draw a warm bath and sprinkle in some Epsom salts. Soak for about 15 minutes. This soothing brew helps remove scales and eases itch. Oatmeal baths can take the tickle out, too. After your bath, pat your skin dry and put on moisturizer right away.

Needle your pain

Acupuncture stimulates specific points on your body, most often with thin needles inserted into the skin. It’s often used to treat pain. In China and elsewhere in Asia, it’s widely used for psoriasis.

Some studies show acupuncture doesn’t make a meaningful difference, while others find it helps. One recent study found that acupuncture therapies were simple, effective, and had few side effects.

Run it by your doctor before you get acupuncture.


Stress is a trigger for hidradenitis suppurativa. So try to find ways to relax if you have them.

Meditation can relieve anxiety

Sit comfortably on the floor with your eyes closed. For 15 minutes, put all other thoughts out of your mind, and just focus on your breathing. You can use an app, too.


Exercise boosts your mood and can fight anxiety. One big study found that women who exercise vigorously are less likely to get psoriasis than women who are less active.


This is the first step to recovery in any illness, it’s not about giving up, but recognizing the need to take control of the pain, and mentally prepares you for the alterations that you will need to make as part of self-management. If you simply try to ignore the pain, you will do nothing about it, and it will not go away.


The best way to self-manage is to find help and support from others. Speak to your clinician, friends, and family about the pain, and what you need in order to successfully self-manage. Support groups and pain management plans can be discussed with your clinician.

Pace yourself

Learning to pace yourself when carrying out your daily activities is very important. If you start to feel the pain increasing, slow down or take a break. If you need to do more than usual, just take it one step at a time.

Set goals

Goal setting is rather like pacing - you can use it to gradually build up the activities that you do. It's all about giving you some control back, rather than letting the pain take over. A goal is something that you would like to achieve.

Plan and Prioritize

This is also a very important part of self-management, and it is worth remembering the saying; “to fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Make a list of all the jobs to need to do throughout the week, then prioritize them, but remember to be flexible and allow plenty of time for breaks.


Be patient with yourself. If things are not going well, just take a break, accept that you need to rest, and carry on later. The build-up of frustration will only make you feel worse, it may take a while to notice an improvement in the pain, it may be a long road, but it will be worth it in the end.


Relaxing the body and the mind can help you to cope with the pain better. This could involve listening to music, reading a book, or even meditation.


A good nights’ sleep can greatly improve your ability to cope with pain. Go to bed at the same time each evening, and get up at a regular time in the morning and avoid taking naps in the day. If sleep problems persist, see your Primary Care Physician.

Remember, self-care remedies don’t replace your doctor’s treatment plan. Call your doctor if your hidradenitis suppurativa gets worse, you’re depressed, or your skin is red with nodules.

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