top of page
  • Brindley Brooks

HS Odor and Ideas to Combat It

If our abscesses are typically sterile and free from infection (harmful bacteria), why can they smell so horrible? They may be sterile, but that doesn’t mean they’re free from bacteria. Although common bacteria testing can come up negative, if they were to do further microbiology testing they would find skin flora, dead skin cells, dead white cells, harmless bacteria, sometimes bad bacteria, fungi, blood, many pH levels, and more.

Pus or drainage, no matter if it’s green, white, yellow, or brown even a chalky like substance does not always indicate that an infection is present. Pus/drainage can be a combination of dead white blood cells, bacteria (good and bad), tissue debris, serum, and living or dead microorganisms. Many of us have a smell that comes from our HS abscesses with no sign of infection when cultured. There are other HS sufferers who have no smell whatsoever with their abscesses. Depending on whether you’re a stage 1, 2 or 3, you may also have scar tissue and tunneling that can collect pus (sometimes for years), which also contributes to the smell.

We will never be able to escape bacteria or any other organism that lives on/in our body; it is how our system is colonized. The best way to minimize smells associated with abscesses is to keep the areas clean and not kill off the good bacteria, as well as avoiding the overuse of antibiotics, especially when there is no infection present.

If your dermatologist is recommending antibiotics without culturing the abscess, we’d recommend that unless there are current signs of infection, that they culture the abscess BEFORE prescribing antibiotics to ensure the correct antibiotics are taken and to avoid the overuse of antibiotics.

Ideas for combatting HS smells:

Essential Oils: Such as grapefruit, lemon, citrus fresh, or lavender. (Disclaimer: Carrier oils are recommended with the use of some essential oils)

Witch Hazel: You can use this as a wipe or in a spray bottle.

Wet Wipes: These come in various different fragrances; it is recommended to avoid the antibacterial types as they kill off the good bacteria as well and stick with fragrances such as aloe, chamomile, or more natural scents.

Mother Dirt: Probiotic skin product which can be purchased online.

Apple Cider Vinegar Spritz: Fill a 2 oz glass spray bottle 1/4 with apple cider vinegar and the remainder of the bottle with water.

Witch Hazel Lemon Spritz: Fill a 2 oz glass spray bottle ¼ full with water, 10 drops of lemon essential oil and fill the remainder of the bottle with witch hazel.

Please visit our Product Page for more information on some of the products listed above.

Related Articles:

Wound Care Video & Printable Guide


Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.

Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen

Edited by Brindley Kons


bottom of page