Acne inversa, also known as hidradenitis suppurativa, is an inflammatory skin disease that starts as small red bumps on the skin and progresses quickly into a severe form of acne.
Acne inversa affects the apocrine glands (sweat glands) and hair follicles, leading to painful red bumps or pus-filled sores in sweat-prone areas like the armpits, groin, under the breasts and the anal area. It may even lead to the formation of deep, inflamed lacerations that can leave prominent scars.
The condition is not contagious and is more common in women, African Americans and people who have a history of acne.
Read on to learn the causes and symptoms and how to get rid of acne inversa.
- Causes of Acne Inversa
- Symptoms of Acne Inversa
- Preventing Acne Inversa Flare-Ups
- Home Remedies to Treat Acne Inversa
- Method 1: Turmeric
- Method 2: Tea Tree Oil
- Method 3: Rubbing Alcohol
- Method 4: Antibacterial Soap
- Method 5: Manuka Honey
- Method 6: Aloe Vera
- Method 7: Warm Compress
- Method 8: Zinc Oxide
- Method 9: Bleach Bath
- Method 10: Diet
Causes of Acne Inversa
While the exact cause of acne inversa is still unknown, some possible contributing factors include:
- Hormonal changes during puberty
- Weak immune system
- Family history of acne inversa
If you are prone to developing acne inversa, the following factors could trigger the condition or worsen an existing flare-up:
- Being overweight
- Taking lithium pills for treating other conditions
Also, contrary to popular belief, poor hygiene does not lead to acne inversa.
Symptoms of Acne Inversa
- Red and tender bumps, called abscesses, that can get enlarged, break open and leak foul-smelling pus
- Uneven areas of skin containing blackheads
- Scarring and tunnels forming under the skin between abscesses
Preventing Acne Inversa Flare-Ups
Because the exact cause of the condition is unknown, there is no sure way to prevent flare-ups. However, avoiding the following may help:
- Wearing tight or synthetic clothing
- Hot and humid climates
- Shaving armpits and groin areas
- Excessive use of deodorant
- Gaining weight
Home Remedies to Treat Acne Inversa
If the condition is mild or moderate, the symptoms can be controlled and treated using home remedies. However, severe cases may require a doctor’s intervention and will need antibiotics if the lesions become infected.
Here are the best 10 home remedies you can use to get rid of acne inversa.
Method 1: Turmeric
The bright yellow spice has been used as a potent healer since ancient times. Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin that functions as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. It can be used along with apple cider vinegar, another antibacterial agent, to get rid of bacteria colonizing the abscesses. Turmeric also helps balance the hormones when taken internally.
Note: Turmeric powder can leave a bright yellow stain, so take care not to get it on your clothes while using this remedy.
Things you’ll need:
- Apple cider vinegar (antibacterial) – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder (anti-inflammatory) – 1 teaspoon
Step 1. Make a paste of turmeric and apple cider vinegar
- Put 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a bowl.
- Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Mix well to form a thick paste.
Step 2. Apply the paste on the acne
- Apply the paste on the bumps and leave it on for 30 minutes.
- Wash it off with warm water.
Apply the turmeric paste twice daily to get rid of acne inversa within 1 week. If the lesions are not severe, the remedy may give you quicker results.
Additionally, to aid the healing process, mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in warm milk (any milk of your choice) and consume daily until the lesions have healed completely.
Method 2: Tea Tree Oil
An effective remedy for basic acne, tea tree oil can also be used to reduce the size and severity of acne inversa. The oil contains antibacterial properties that not only help clear up the infection but also reduce the foul smell of the pus.
Since the oil is available in concentrated form, direct application can sting a bit. You can mix it in a carrier oil and then use it on the affected area.
Things you’ll need:
- Tea tree oil (antibacterial) – 5 or 6 drops
- Olive oil (carrier oil) – 1 tablespoon
Single-Step Treatment: Dilute tea tree oil in olive oil & apply
- Add 5 or 6 drops of tea tree oil to 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the two well.
- Using your clean fingers or a cotton ball, apply the oil blend all over the affected skin. You need not wipe it off.
Repeat 2 or 3 times every day to heal the acne inversa lesions within a week.
Method 3: Rubbing Alcohol
If the red bumps haven’t turned into leaking open sores, you can try using rubbing alcohol to shrink them. Rubbing alcohol works as a powerful disinfectant and will also dry out the acne-like lesions quickly.
Single-Step Treatment: Dab rubbing alcohol on the pimple-like bumps
- Soak a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol.
- Dab it on the infected areas. If you are applying it to several bumps, use a fresh cotton swab as needed.
- Allow the alcohol to air-dry.
Apply rubbing alcohol 4 or 5 times every day to get rid of acne inversa within a week, or even less depending upon the severity.
Method 4: Antibacterial Soap
You can also get yourself a good antibacterial soap if you suffer from frequent bouts of acne inversa. The soap cleanses the skin and kills the bacteria that may be causing the condition. You can try using Hibiclens liquid skin cleanser for this remedy.
Single-Step Treatment: Cleanse your skin with an antibacterial soap
- Use an antibacterial skin cleanser to clean your skin twice a day.
- Also, use it after any intense physical activity that causes you to sweat.
Use antibacterial soap twice daily for 1 week to treat acne inversa.
Method 5: Manuka Honey
Manuka honey has been gaining popularity as a natural cure for a number of bacteria-based skin infections. Manuka honey is different from regular honey due to the presence of methylglyoxal, a compound responsible for its antibacterial properties. Choose one that is labeled MGO 400+.
Though it can be a little expensive, it is a good investment. In addition to treating your acne inversa, you can consume the honey on a daily basis to maintain a healthy gut and boost your immunity.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply Manuka honey on the affected skin daily
- Use a cotton swab to apply Manuka honey on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 3 to 4 hours or preferably overnight.
- Wash it off with tepid water.
Apply Manuka honey every night for 2 to 3 weeks to get rid of acne inversa.
Method 6: Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent that can reduce the inflammation of acne inversa and eliminate any infection. Aloe vera also leaves a cooling effect on the skin, reducing the soreness. The enzymes present in aloe vera gel also ensure faster regeneration of healthy skin cells.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area
- Apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area.
- Massage it gently to allow the gel to penetrate deep into the skin.
- Keep the area uncovered and allow the gel to dry on its own.
Repeat 2 or 3 times every day for 3 to 4 weeks or until you get complete relief.
Method 7: Warm Compress
If your acne inversa is mild, you can heal it quickly by increasing the blood circulation in the affected area. This can be done with the help of a warm compress.
This remedy will work only for bumps that pop up abruptly, not the recurring ones.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a warm compress
- Soak a cloth completely in hot water.
- Wring out the excess water.
- Press the warm cloth against the inflamed area. Hold it in place until the heat weans off.
- Rewet the cloth and continue to apply the warm compress for at least 20 minutes.
Repeat 2 or 3 times a day until the bumps have subsided and the discomfort is gone.
Method 8: Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant that can be used to manage acne inversa. It gets easily absorbed into the skin and helps draw the infection out.
Zinc oxide is also a popular ingredient among new parents, as it can successfully heal diaper rash. You can easily make the DIY zinc oxide cream at home. The same DIY cream can be applied to treat acne inversa as well.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply zinc oxide cream on the inflamed skin
- Apply zinc oxide cream all over the infected skin.
- If possible, massage it gently into the skin. If it causes discomfort, you can leave it as is.
- You need not wash it off.
Repeat 2 times a day until the inflammation settles down.
Method 9: Bleach Bath
Bleach baths are recommended for people who frequently suffer from skin infections. Common household bleach helps reduce the colonization of bacteria and aid faster recovery.
Caution: Consult your dermatologist before proceeding with this remedy. Also, the ratio of bleach to water is important. Check the label of the bleach and use accordingly.
Single-Step Treatment: Soak your body in a bleach bath
- Add ⅓ teaspoon of 2.2% household bleach to every 1 quart of warm water.
- Keeping your head above the water, soak in the bath for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse yourself with clean water and pat dry your skin.
Do this twice a week along with other remedies to help get rid of acne inversa quickly.
Method 10: Diet
Your diet plays a vital role in helping you recover from any ailment. While some foods provide relief from acne inversa, others can make the flare-ups worse. Since the cause of acne inversa is unknown, you will have to watch what you eat to identify what triggers the breakouts. Eliminating those foods will help control the condition.
These general diet guidelines will also help control acne inversa flare-ups:
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Avoid or reduce your consumption of sugar and processed foods.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
- Reduce your intake of dairy, wheat and flour.
- Opt for lean meat.
- Increase your intake of foods rich in fiber.
- If the pain is unbearable, you can apply an ice pack for temporary pain relief.
- Keep your skin clean and dry as much as you can to get rid of acne inversa.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated to naturally eliminate toxins from the body that may cause flare-ups.