Hidradenitis Suppurativa: How This Skin Disorder Is Linked to Leaky Gut Syndrome

Hidradenitis Suppurativa, also known as HS, is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. It usually appears in areas of the body where sweat glands are located, such as the armpits, groin, and buttocks. This condition is characterized by recurring and painful lumps, abscesses, and cysts that can become infected and lead to scarring, as well as a foul smell.

HS is most common in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is more common in women than in men, and it tends to run in families. As a cardiac surgeon and researcher, Dr. Gundry has discovered that HS is closely linked to leaky gut syndrome, a condition that allows toxins and bacteria to escape from your intestines and trigger an immune response.

What Is a Leaky Gut Syndrome and What is its connection to HS?

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where your intestinal lining becomes damaged and porous, allowing undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria, and other harmful substances to leak into your bloodstream. This triggers an immune reaction, as your body tries to fight off these foreign invaders. However, this also causes chronic inflammation, which can damage your tissues and organs over time.

Leaky gut syndrome is at the root of most autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and of course, HS. Autoimmune diseases are conditions where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues, causing various symptoms and complications. The reason why this happens is because of molecular mimicry: some of the substances that leak from your gut resemble your own tissues, so your immune system gets confused and attacks both.

For example, lectins are a type of protein found in many plant foods, such as grains, legumes, nightshades, nuts, seeds, and dairy products. Lectins can cause leaky gut syndrome by binding to your gut lining and breaking down the tight junctions that hold it together. Lectins also resemble some of the proteins found in your skin cells, such as keratin. So when lectins leak into your bloodstream, your immune system may attack your skin cells as well. This can lead to HS or other skin disorders1

How Does HS Cause or Worsen Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) can contribute to or exacerbate leaky gut syndrome through various mechanisms. HS may trigger inflammation in the skin glands, which can extend to the intestines and harm the integrity of the gut lining. It can disrupt hormonal balance, impacting gut health. For instance, elevated levels of testosterone or estrogen can promote bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the gut.

HS can influence dietary and lifestyle choices, affecting gut health. For instance, individuals with HS may experience discomfort after consuming specific foods like lectins (found in many plant foods), gluten (found in wheat), dairy products, soy products, red meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or spicy foods. These foods can further irritate the gut lining or nourish harmful bacteria, potentially aggravating leaky gut syndrome.

Moreover, individuals with HS often turn to medications or surgeries to manage symptoms and improve their skin condition, which can inadvertently impact gut health.

For example,

  • Antibiotics can reduce infection but can also kill the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation but can also suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infections or ulcers.
  • Surgery can remove affected skin glands but can also cause trauma to your intestines or introduce infections into your abdominal cavity.

How To Diagnose and Treat HS and Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Symptoms of HS include tender, red bumps that may break open and leak pus. These bumps can appear in clusters and become painful. They may also have a foul odor and cause itching or burning sensations. As the condition progresses, it can cause deep, painful nodules under the skin that can rupture and form abscesses.

HS and leaky gut syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, as they can cause a variety of symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will need to take a detailed medical history, perform a physical examination, and order some tests to confirm your condition.

These tests may include:

  • Review of your health history and a physical exam will be required
  • Blood tests to check for inflammation, hormones, or infections
  • Urine tests to check for toxins or infections
  • Stool tests to check for parasites, bacteria, or yeast
  • Skin biopsy to check for skin damage or inflammation
  • Culture or swab to check for bacteria or fungus

The treatment of HS and leaky gut syndrome depends on the severity and cause of your condition. Some of the possible treatments include:

  • Medications or supplements to reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, balance gut bacteria, or heal the gut lining
  • Dietary changes to eliminate foods that cause leaky gut syndrome or HS symptoms and to include foods that support gut health and skin health
  • Lifestyle changes to reduce stress, improve sleep, exercise moderately, and avoid toxins or infections
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, or herbal remedies to relieve pain, inflammation, or stress
  • Surgery to remove affected skin glands if medications or other treatments fail or if skin damage is severe

How To Prevent or Heal HS and Leaky Gut Syndrome with Diet and Lifestyle Changes at Gundry Health?

Recent studies have shown that HS may be linked to other autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been suggested that smoking, obesity, and stress may trigger flare-ups of HS symptoms.

Living with HS can be emotionally challenging. Many people with HS experience depression, anxiety, and social isolation due to the stigma associated with the condition. It is important for individuals with HS to seek emotional support, whether through counseling, support groups, or online communities.

While some forms of HS and leaky gut syndrome are not preventable, you can still take steps to improve your overall health and reduce your risk of complications.

Some of the best ways to do so are:

  • Eat a balanced diet that is rich in plant-based foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, refined carbs, lectins, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and nightshades. These foods can trigger inflammation, disrupt your gut microbiome, and impair your immune system2
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can worsen your symptoms and affect your blood volume and pressure.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and drugs that can interfere with your skin function. These substances can cause dehydration, increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and affect your mood and sleep quality.
  • Manage your stress levels and practice relaxation techniques. Stress can activate your sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response) and cause a surge of adrenaline and cortisol. This can exacerbate your symptoms and damage your nerves over time.
  • Get enough sleep and follow a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is essential for repairing your body and regulating your hormones. Lack of sleep can impair your cognitive function, mood, metabolism, and immune system.
  • Exercise moderately and regularly but avoid overexertion or extreme temperatures. Exercise can improve your cardiovascular health, muscle tone, blood flow, and mood. However, too much exercise or exposure to heat or cold can trigger your symptoms and cause a drop or spike in your blood pressure or heart rate.

At Gundry Health, we offer a holistic approach to clinical care that addresses the root causes of HS and leaky gut syndrome. We use a combination of lab data (blood tests), provider treatment (medications), dietary changes (lectin-free diet), supplements (probiotics), lifestyle modification (stress management), alternative therapies (acupuncture), surgery (if needed), as well as education (books) to help you heal your gut and improve your overall health. By following our protocol, you can prevent or heal HS and leaky gut syndrome and reduce the risk of autoimmune disease.

Get personalized care and recommendations for Hidradenitis Suppurativa from Dr Gundry-Approved program

If you’re looking for more guidance about Hidradenitis Suppurativa disease than this short list of recommendations, Dr. Gundry’s unique health program is now available to you (without needing an appointment at one of Dr. Gundry’s two, waitlist-only West Coast clinics).

Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Gundry and his team at Gundry Health, patient care team trained in Dr. Gundry’s unique holistic methods are now available to help you craft your own personalized lupus program.

It’s easy to get started.

Simply click the link below to get more information about personalized Hidradenitis Suppurativa treatment plan options, so you can get expert analysis, diagnostic care, and a plan for tackling lupus, arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases.

Each patient care team member at Gundry Health is Board Certified and trained in Dr. Gundry’s renowned approach to functional medicine and care.

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If you have any questions or concerns about HS or leaky gut syndrome, please contact us at Gundry Health to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified health professionals. You can also visit our website for more information and resources3

1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605935/

2: https://gundrymd.com/lectin-free-diet/


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