food triggers for hidradenitis suppurativa

Exploring Food Connections in Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Unmasking Hidden Triggers

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a condition that causes small, painful lumps to form under the skin, usually in areas where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts. The lumps can get infected and leak pus with a bad smell. Sometimes they can also form tunnels under the skin and leave scars.

HS is not contagious, and it is not caused by poor hygiene. It is believed to be related to the hair follicles getting blocked, but the exact cause is unclear. Some factors that may increase the risk of HS are age, gender, hormones, genetics, smoking and excess weight.

HS can be very frustrating and painful to deal with. It can affect your self-esteem, social life and mental health. It can also lead to other health problems like inflammation, infection and depression.

Impact of Lifestyle Factors on Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) Flare-ups

Various lifestyle factors, such as stress, smoking, obesity and hormonal changes, can trigger HS flare-ups. These factors can worsen inflammation, impair wound healing and increase the risk of infection.

Therefore, managing these factors can help reduce the frequency and severity of HS flare-ups. Some lifestyle changes may help include quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing stress and avoiding tight-fitting clothing.

Role of Diet in Managing HS Symptoms

While there is no cure for HS, some people find certain foods can trigger or worsen their symptoms. Therefore, following a healthy diet may help to manage HS and improve quality of life.

There is no specific diet for HS, but some general guidelines are:

  • Avoid foods that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat and dairy products, as they may increase inflammation and insulin resistance.
  • Eat more foods that are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and probiotics, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and yogurt. These foods may help to reduce inflammation and support immune system function.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out toxins from the body.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, which may dehydrate the skin and worsen HS symptoms.
  • Identify and avoid any food sensitivities or allergies that may trigger HS flare-ups. Some common culprits are gluten, yeast, nightshade vegetables and eggs.

A balanced diet can also help to maintain a healthy weight, which is important for HS management. Excess weight can increase friction and pressure on the affected areas and increase the risk of other health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Common Food Triggers Associated with HS

If you have HS, you may have noticed that some foods make your symptoms worse. These are called food triggers and can vary from person to person, causing inflammation, pain and flare-ups in your skin.

According to research, some of the foods that may cause or aggravate HS symptoms are:

Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products may increase the levels of certain hormones that can lead to HS symptoms. Dairy products may also cause inflammation in some people who are sensitive or allergic to them.

Sugary Foods

Candy, chocolate, cake, cookies, soda, juice and other foods that are high in added sugars can cause a spike in blood glucose levels. This can trigger inflammation and affect hormone balance in the body.

Refined Carbohydrates

White bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips and other foods that are made from refined flour can also raise blood sugar levels and inflammation. These foods are also low in fiber and nutrients, which are essential for skin health.

Brewer's Yeast

Brewer’s yeast is a type of yeast that is used to make beer, bread and some other foods. A small study found that brewer’s yeast may trigger HS symptoms in some people. This may be related to gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

Foods That May Help with HS

On the other hand, some of the foods that may help reduce inflammation and improve skin health are:

Fiber-Rich Foods

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and other foods that are high in fiber can help balance blood sugar and hormone levels. Fiber also helps you feel full faster, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can worsen HS symptoms by increasing friction and pressure on the skin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring; flaxseeds; chia seeds; walnuts; and soybeans are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These anti-inflammatory fats can help modulate immune system function and skin health.


Berries; citrus fruits; dark leafy greens; tomatoes; carrots; sweet potatoes; green tea; turmeric; ginger; garlic; and other foods that contain antioxidants can help protect the skin from oxidative stress and inflammation. Antioxidants also help boost collagen production and wound healing.

Importance of Discussing Dietary Changes with Healthcare Professionals

If you’re considering changing your diet, you might wonder if you must consult a healthcare professional first. After all, you know your body best, right? Well, not exactly. There are many reasons why discussing dietary changes with a healthcare professional is important and beneficial for your health and well-being.

First of all, a healthcare professional can help you assess your current nutritional status and identify any potential deficiencies or imbalances. They can also advise you on how to meet your specific dietary needs and goals, whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, manage a chronic condition or prevent disease. A healthcare professional can also help you design a personalized meal plan that suits your preferences, budget and lifestyle.

Secondly, a healthcare professional can monitor your progress and adjust your plan as needed. They can also provide you with feedback, support and encouragement along the way. A healthcare professional can also help you overcome any challenges or barriers that might arise during your dietary transition. They can also help you cope with any side effects or complications that might occur from changing your diet.

Lastly, a healthcare professional can educate you on the latest evidence-based information and recommendations regarding nutrition and health. They can also debunk any myths or misconceptions influencing your dietary choices. A healthcare professional can also help you evaluate the quality and credibility of any sources of information or products that you might encounter online or in the media.

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