One-third of people with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) turn to alternative medicine, according to the results of a small study. This research, which confirms other similar findings in HS, indicates that a limited response to first-line treatments and the high cost of prescribed medications may be at least partly responsible for this shift.
The study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2021; 20(10):1072-1074. doi:10.36849/JDD.6046), was designed to determine the prevalence of alternative medicine use and to help characterize differences between patients who report using alternative medications and those who do not.
According to the study, 67 patients with HS were surveyed regarding demographics, alternative medicine use, disease severity and quality of life.
Results showed that 25 (37.2%) of the HS subjects reported use of alternative therapies, such as hot baths, antibiotics, creams, laser hair removal, teas and bath salts and soap. According to the authors, these patients tended to be younger (36.7 vs. 40.8 years), have a shorter time since diagnosis (12.6 vs. 14.6 years), and reported worse quality of life (14.1 vs. 11.0) than people who did not use alternative therapies.
“Alternative medicine use among patients with hidradenitis is common regardless of disease severity; even mild disease may drive patients to seek alternative treatment,” Jordan Lane, BS, BSN, of the Center for Dermatology Research in the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. and colleagues wrote. They noted that the small sample size was a limitation of the study.