Hidradenitis suppurativa, alternatively known as acne inversa, is a skin condition that primarily affects the groin and armpit (or axilla) regions. It involves inflammation of these parts of the body, along with the production of large amounts of pus, which will be found in abscesses and cysts. Sometimes, in more severe cases, these abscesses will be connected by sinus tracts, which are channels under the skin that contain yet more pus. Hidradenitis suppurativa is an extremely painful condition, due to the pressure that is created from the pus and the inflammation.
Therefore, in order to minimise the symptoms, particularly the pain, of this condition, you will need to find methods of alleviating the inflammation. You can use medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but these are not recommended for use on a long term basis, as they can cause damage to the stomach and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. If you have severe inflammation, then your doctor may prescribe a short course of corticosteroids for you, but these, again, should only be taken for a few days.
You may be surprised to learn that what you eat can have a huge impact on the symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa and a wide range of other conditions. It is thought that hidradenitis suppurativa may be the result of a problem with the immune system attacking the body when you do not have an infection – this is an autoimmune disorder. Changing the foods that you eat can prevent your immune system from overreaching, and it will then reduce your symptoms. So, what are the foods that you should avoid?
Many hidradenitis suppurativa patients have recently begun to follow the Paleo diet, which consists of large amounts of vegetables and some meat, while cutting out all foods that are based on grains. Wheat is one of the foods that can lead to the immune system reacting when it should not – this is because it responds to a substance known as gluten, which causes a number of symptoms within the body. Cutting out wheat and other grain products has been reported to reduce the inflammation and improve the symptoms considerably.
Red meat can also lead to worsening of the symptoms.
For this reason, some sufferers of hidradenitis suppurativa choose to avoid foods such as beef. However, this reaction does not occur in everyone with the condition, so it is important for you to keep a food diary. This should involve keeping a detailed record of the foods that you eat and the severity of your symptoms each day.
While it is extremely healthy, and advisable, to eat large quantities of vegetables, there are some which you may prefer to stay away from. Plants in the nightshade family may cause the immune system to react, leading to a flare up of your symptoms. This means that you should avoid foods such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, which may also be known as eggplant. While it is important to also include fruit in the diet, these should ideally be varieties that are low in fructose, such as berries or melons, as fructose can lead to an increase in the severity of your condition.
There are, however, many foods that are perfectly safe for you to eat, although everybody has a different experience with their symptoms, as the condition can vary considerably from one patient to another. Your doctor should be able to suggest changes to your diet that will alleviate some of the inflammation, and may also be able to carry out tests for food intolerances, which will help you with finding a suitable diet for you.