How Does Diet Affect Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
The good news: A few simple eating tweaks may help some people manage symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa.
Can eating a low-carbohydrate diet help prevent HS flares? Christopher Sayed, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses the relationship between food and HS.
There are very few studies that have looked at diet and what its effect is on HS. We do know that increasing weight is associated with increased disease severity, though. Patients will ask about a wide range of diets. One of the options that frequently come up are diets that restrict dairy, sugar, and white flour. More extreme versions of those are diets like the autoimmune protocol diets or paleo diets that really restrict most of those items.
I often speak with patients about diet, trying to sort out what certain triggers are and what diets help patients the most. There is just very little out there in terms of studies that backup one diet over another or determine that any of the diets are helpful. It's often just based off experience and talking to patients.
I sometimes talk to patients about potentially trying to cut out things like dairy or reduce sugar intake. Those are low risk and relatively easy to do compared to the more restrictive diets. I do think if I tell every patient that walks in the door to do an autoimmune or paleo diet, that I could never do and maintain for the course of a lifetime, I think I'm setting some of those patients up for failure and self-blame in the end. That has an impact on quality of life, just like a medication can. What we talk about those diets and talk about how those they might fit into their life in the right way, I think it's not going to be the answer for every patient.