Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatment Modalities

If you have HS, chances are that you have heard of 1 or more complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments. There are many CAM options out there and it may be difficult to know which ones will work for you. In a survey study with more than 300 people with HS, nearly 85% reported using CAM treatments. Many people used CAM treatments because they were frustrated with their normal HS treatments, wanted to try new things, or wanted to try more natural treatments for their disease. In this post, we will discuss some CAM treatment methods that may be helpful for HS.

Clothing choices

Choosing more comfortable clothing can make everyday tasks easier. Certain fabrics, such as 100% cotton, cellulose-based, and bamboo-based fabrics may be more breathable. Clothes made from 100% polyester may be better at absorbing sweat, which can decrease friction. In terms of undergarments, wireless bras, abdominal/bra liners, and loose boxers can be useful. Bras with thin straps, tight briefs, and tight clothing or accessories should be avoided when possible. Companies such as HidraWear® make specialized undergarments that can hold wound dressings
in place.

Dietary recommendations

Many people living with HS say that specific foods make their disease better or worse. In general, limiting simple carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta is recommended. Some studies have shown that decreasing the consumption of dairy products such as milk and cheese may improve HS. Foods and drinks that contain Brewer’s yeast such as beer and baked goods might lead to increased HS flares. Sticking to more of a Mediterranean diet has also been reported to be beneficial.


Different supplements have been studied for HS. Oral zinc with or without nicotinamide may be beneficial. Importantly, too much intake of oral zinc can cause someone to have a copper deficiency so speak with your healthcare provider about starting a copper supplement if you take oral zinc. Other supplements that have been investigated for HS include magnesium, Vitamin D, and turmeric. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

Author: Rahul Masson, Medical Student and former HS Research Fellow