Weight Loss and Dietary Interventions for Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Systematic Review

J Cutan Med Surg. 2020 Jan/Feb;24(1):64-72. doi: 10.1177/1203475419874412. Epub 2019 Sep 10.


Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a common inflammatory disorder characterized by recurrent, painful, and malodorous abscesses and nodules predominantly in skin folds. HS is associated with substantial morbidity and poor quality of life. There are no curative therapies, and the only approved biologic drug has variable efficacy and requires high doses, making adjunct treatments crucial. An important risk factor for disease severity is obesity. Our primary objective was to conduct a systematic review examining weight loss and dietary interventions, in HS. Our secondary objective was to examine nutritional supplements in HS.A systematic literature search was conducted using Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Database. We included all study types in adults (>18 years), with a minimum sample size of 5, examining the effects of any dietary or weight loss intervention on HS severity. Two authors screened n = 1279 articles of which 9 met inclusion criteria. All included studies were observational and all interventions were associated with various measures of decreased HS severity. Patient-controlled weight loss and bariatric surgery were associated with HS regression, though a subset of patients with significant increase in panniculi experienced exacerbations and required excision of excess skin. Diets demonstrating benefit eliminated dairy and brewer's yeast. Nutritional supplements including zinc gluconate, vitamin D, and riboflavin had a suppressive, rather than curative, effect on HS lesions in single studies. Overall, the reviewed interventions show promise as potential adjunct treatments in a HS management plan. Prospective randomized controlled trials should validate these findings.

Keywords: diet; hidradenitis suppurativa; lifestyle; obesity; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / diet therapy*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Weight Loss*