Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) - A Deep Dark Secret

Not many people are familiar with HS but it's a condition that affects many more women than is reported when you search for information online. The only study I found reported that the number is something like 1% of the population. I believe that number to be much higher, just from what I've seen in my own clientele throughout the last 20 years. The issue is that this condition typically affects women of color who are usually also overweight.


In HS, cystic ingrown hairs become abscesses growing in clusters near areas where sweat ducts are located. Initially they look like very angry cystic ingrown hairs- hairs are usually present. The thing about these ingrowns is that even when you remove the hair and drain the cyst, it doesn't make it go away. They're located in the bikini area, under arms, and under breasts. These areas are also dark and moist, the perfect condition to breed bacteria. A vicious cycle of infection begins.


Most women have dealt with this from the time they reach puberty, and it doesn't matter if they've shaved or not. Over the years they've either hidden it from doctors or have been dismissed by them when bringing them up... Many doctors aren't familiar with HS, and aren't sure how to treat it. In the meantime, I've seen women who are almost disfigured from years of trying to deal with this on their own, attempting to drain them and remove the puss and hair. That's the other part of this condition that's so hard. The scarring. In a woman's most private area, to see herself scarred & the constant pain...it's traumatizing. It affects her self esteem, her sex life, and her relationship with her body.


I started instructing my clients to DRY BRUSH and the results that they saw were amazing. Within the four weeks between waxing appointments, they saw dramatic changes in their condition. Typically I have clients dry brush 2=3 times per week, with clients suffering from HS, I instruct them to dry brush daily. Nothing intense- using a light pressure, brushing in an upward motion across the area. Dry Brushing not only gets rid of the excess dead skin, but it also gets rid of clogging that gets trapped in the pores and hair follicles. We saw that not only did the abscesses clear up, but the scarring started to lighten also.


My theory is that for people who suffer from it, the issue starts when oil and dead skin become trapped in the pores and either skin or fabric is constantly constricting and rubbing on it, causing the initial cyst to form. The question is- what happens after that to cause the cyst to become so out of control.? Is there a horomonal component? Is the weight issue causing a hormonal issue or is it the physical issue of skin/fabric compressing the area? Is it both? There needs to be more studies done, but until that happens, at least we do know that something as simple as using a dry brush consistently and intervening with an antibiotic when necessary can help. More doctors are familiar with the condition, and are finally becoming more sensitive to their patients. I'm hopeful that we'll have even better treatments in the future, but sometimes it's the simple things that work.



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