Yes, stress can make hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) worse. The anxiety that comes with the unexpected nature of flare-ups can increase your stress and the stress can, in turn, cause flare-ups. This leads to a vicious cycle.
HS is a chronic skin condition that causes painful bumps in areas such as the groin, axilla, buttocks and under the breasts. The condition has no cure and causes recurring episodes. This leads to severe psychological distress. You may have to dedicate time daily to dressing the skin wounds caused by the burst bumps. This, accompanied by the fear of stigmatization, worsens stress.
However, proper management of the flares is possible with the right therapy. So, you don’t need to stress out!
How to cope with stress while living with HS
Stress can affect anyone. But, you need to pay special attention to it when you are living with chronic conditions such as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Here are a few ways to reduce and manage stress.
Work with your doctor
You can work with your doctor to discuss the various treatment options and find the right treatment for you. Improvement in pain may relieve the burden of everyday stress that comes with the disease. Your doctor will prescribe topical washes and creams, antibiotics, biologic medications and surgical procedures. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and advice. If you think you need to change your current dermatologist, consider talking to a doctor who specializes in treating HS.
Learn your triggers
Pay attention to the things and situations that bring on negative thoughts and emotions and trigger your HS flares. Avoid them if you can.
Contact your doctor during stressful flares
HS flares can be very stressful as they can impact your ability to carry out your routine daily activities and plans. Doctors have medications that alleviate symptoms during the flares and reduce their frequency. Contact your doctor via phone or an online portal if you are experiencing troubling symptoms.
Make healthy lifestyle modifications
Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and intensity of HS flares. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Make whole grains, fiber and nuts a part of your daily diet. Get at least seven hours of sleep daily and quit smoking.
Talk to a mental health professional
A mental health professional, counselor or psychiatrist can help you figure out ways to deal with your stress. By sharing your thoughts and experiences of HS, they will understand your situation and offer tips tailored to your emotional health. They can teach you techniques such as biofeedback therapy, which can change your perception and beliefs that may be causing you stress and triggering your HS flares. Ask your doctor for a referral or search online, looking particularly for a board-certified mental health professional.
Join an HS support group
You can look for HS support groups. Connecting with people who are dealing with HS every day will help you feel less alone. You may also gain insight about how to deal with the condition..
Consider practicing yoga, mindfulness exercises and meditation daily. Mindfulness activities such as meditation can help you shift your perspective and build resilience.
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