Hidradenitis suppurativa or acne inversa describes a condition characterized by small, painful bumps that develop under the skin. It typically appears near our sweat glands where the skin rubs together. This rare, long-term skin condition is related to the apocrine gland, which is situated where we have hairs like under the arms, in the groin and between the buttocks. In some cases, Hidradenitis Suppurativa might also flare-up in places where the skin rubs together like our thighs.
Since the causes behind the outbreak of HS remain unknown and largely debatable, most of the medical treatments are targeted at controlling the factors that trigger this condition in the first place.
New Evidence Regarding Vitamin D
Newly-published research by the Vitamin D Council has discovered that most HS patients are deficient in vitamin D. This leads to the question of whether the lack of vitamin D is a cause of HS, or if HS results in vitamin D deficiency. In either case, it is tantamount that the deficiency is treated, as low levels of this vitamin leads to a host of problems, including exacerbation of the disease and impaired wound healing.
Role of Vitamin D
Primarily, vitamin D is linked known for its role in helping our body absorb calcium and keeping our skeletal system strong. However, it has many more important roles in the body, and in fact vitamin D receptors are expressed on most cell types of our body.
Apart from the cells necessary for our bone health, vitamin D also contributes to the physiology of our normal tissue. Deficiency of Vitamin D encourages numerous pathological processes, which includes diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmunity.
More relevant to HS, is the finding that there are vitamin D receptors on keratinocytes in the epidermis of our skin and also in hair follicle cells. The vitamin promotes epidermal differentiation and follicle growth, and a deficiency leads to abnormalities of the skin and follicles. Moreover, vitamin D plays a crucial role in immunity and in wound healing.
Can Vitamin D Supplements help Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
Following the discovery that most HS patients have low levels of vitamin D, researchers from France deliberated on the deficiency further. They conducted a study to discover whether the lack of Vitamin D was contributing to the severity of the condition and if supplementation with Vitamin D can help with the treatment.
The study was reported in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology and was headed by Dr. A. Guillet. Twenty-two patients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa were included in the study and all had Vitamin D levels lower than 30 ng/ml. The very first analysis suggested that there was a correlation between the severity of the condition and the level of Vitamin D deficiency.
Later, a separate analysis was done on 14 patients who were provided Vitamin D supplements for six months. The objective of this second analysis was to determine if Vitamin D supplements were helpful in the treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Surprisingly, it was concluded that Vitamin D supplements could significantly reduce the inflammation in the nodules. The vitamin was believed to activated the innate immunity of the skin, which aided in the reducing the inflammation. 79% of the patients experienced a reduction of at least 20% in the number of nodules.
Although research on Hidradenitis Suppurativa & Vitamin D is still in its infancy, it is sensible to advice that HS patients are tested for vitamin D and once deficiency is diagnosed or suspected, vitamin D supplements are commenced. An untreated deficiency will not only exacerbate HS, but can also lead to a host of other problems and chronic conditions.
P.S. Two Things You NEED to KNOW when selecting a Vitamin D Supplement
If you opt for vitamin D supplements, keep these two points in mind (or ask your pharmacist/doctor if in doubt):
1. Never take Vitamin D Without Vitamin K2
Just as important as vitamin D is taking vitamin K2! Taking Vitamin D without vitamin K could actually be harmful to your health.
When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. Vitamin D gets calcium into your blood and Vitamin K gets it to the bones and prevents the calcium from accumulating in your arteries, kidneys or heart.
You don’t want rogue calcium going to the wrong places, causing joint stiffness or arterial plaque. Vitamin K2 insures that your body uses calcium properly.
2. Get a clinically absorbable form of Vitamin D
A number of cheaper brands of Vitamin D on the market are not absorbable to significant levels. When vitamin D cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate and you will not get the benefits.
There are a number of good brands out there and your pharmacist or doctor will be able to recommend a suitable one. Personally I am using PuraTHRIVE Vitamin D3 + Vitamin K2 as it ticks all the boxes – it contains vitamin D at the best absorbable form (liposomal D3), is combined with vitamin K2 at the optimal ratio, and is produced in an FDA-Registered Facility. Both me and my family have been using 8 pumps of this daily for over a year and our blood vitamin D levels always come up at the optimal level.
Written by Therese Wilson – nutritionist, health consultant, and author of Fast Hidradenitis Suppurativa Cure.