Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 Nov

Are Your Skin Problems an Autoimmune Issue? – Answers, Solutions, plus a New Primal Book!

The Hidden PlagueToday’s guest post is from my good friend Tara Grant, truly a budding superstar in the Primal/paleo/ancestral health movement. Tara started out as a success story (“Tons of Doctors and No Solution” – one of the most visited stories in our entire archive; and also on the pages of the The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation), and has leveraged her Primal success (she went from 245 lbs to 159 lbs in around 18 months in ’09-’10) like few others: She’s a veteran PrimalCon presenter, has delivered numerous Primal Blueprint Transformation Seminars, and recently completed a remarkable book called The Hidden Plague, which details the painful and poorly understood skin condition of Hidradenitis supprativa (HS).

Tara has become an underground legend in the online autoimmune community for helping people solve frustrating skin conditions such as HS (and assorted other autoimmune issues) with a methodically designed diet-based protocol that identifies trigger foods and promotes natural healing of the digestive tract and immune system. Her post today might resonate with many of us who deal with mild to significant skin issues the traditional way (lotions, potions, creams, prescriptions) with less than stellar results. For example, I flipped a copy of her food restriction protocol to a friend of mine who’s suffered from psoriasis and been under medical care for 40 years…She reported immediate and dramatic improvements after following Tara’s protocol. Enjoy Tara’s post and learn more about the book below…

My Story

I have been sick for as long as I can remember—except that I didn’t actually realize I was sick until I was in my mid-thirties. Before that, my baseline notion of health was what it was, and I was basically living in acceptance as a miserable, suffering human. When I switched to a Primal Blueprint eating style in 2009, a lot of the chronic conditions I thought were “normal” suddenly vanished. I was left with a feeling of health and vitality that, frankly, I wasn’t used to. I didn’t realize that human beings could actually feel this good, or that I could actually look good like the fortunate few!

Tara Grant

I used to have quite a lot wrong with me, including PCOS, IBS, endometriosis, massive mood swings, joint pain, and depression. As bad as those problems were, issues with my skin trumped them all and caused me considerable psychological damage. I suffered from cystic acne—both as a teenager and as an adult, long after it was supposed to have stopped. I had mild eczema, chicken skin on my upper arms, mysterious hives and rashes, and itching from head to toe. My skin would get inexplicably dry and cracked, especially on my feet and legs. I suffered from ingrown hairs in my nose, on my scalp, and anywhere I decided I wanted to shave. I was riddled with inflammation, and my skin broadcast the tale for the world to see. I felt eighty years old. I hurt. I was sick. I hated my life and I wanted to die.

Something told me that living in constant pain and misery wasn’t what nature had intended for us as a species. I knew I could get better, but I didn’t know how. Everyone around me was “sick” too—even the doctors I went to see. In an attempt to fix myself, I became a serial patient—I saw over forty doctors in four different countries when I was working for NATO. Each doctor attempted to treat my individual symptoms, as if the symptoms were the problem – instead of just…symptoms…of a bigger issue. Nothing they tried ever worked. I spent thousands of dollars on antibacterial and acne products, to no avail. I took any and all medication I was offered, hoping that the answer was in the latest pill, and being constantly disappointed. None of the forty medical doctors ever suggested a connection to diet or made any recommendations about my diet.

During this time, the worst problem I had with my skin (and this is one I never told anyone about) was a condition called Hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS for short. I suffered from HS for over 20 years, with no more than a couple months respite from the horrible pain. Doctors were stumped when I mentioned the symptoms of this condition to them. Typically, I was told I would need to make another appointment, or that they simply didn’t know what was wrong with me. Although the condition got drastically better when I started eating Primally, it didn’t fully go away. I still flared-up from time to time, for no apparent reason. I knew I was on the right track with my diet modifications, and I made it my mission to somehow solve my last and most painful lingering problem, no matter what it took.

What is Hidradenitis suppurativa?

HS manifests as painful boils, deep-seated lumps, and acne-like lesions in inverse areas of your body—that means anywhere skin touches skin. In severe cases, or when inflammation is extreme, any hair follicle on your body is fair game. In order to really bring this concept home, let’s play a thought exercise. Take the worst breakout you ever had as a teenager. Now, turn it into a boil and make it the size of a golf ball. Where shall we place it? How about your groin? Armpit? Under your breast, on your scalp, the back of your neck, or on your testicles? Sounds horrific, doesn’t it? Now, let’s add in the unfortunate fact that this boil (let’s say it’s in your groin) takes approximately two months (or longer) to go away. While it’s healing, it leaks and oozes both pus and blood, gets even more inflamed and painful, and has a huge chance of becoming infected. Forget about your sex life or that tropical holiday you had planned. You don’t want anyone to see you—or touch you—during this time. Right as the boil is starting to fully drain and heal, another one pops up right next to it, starting the whole damn cycle over again. Unfortunately, this is what people with HS deal with on a daily basis. HS is classified as one of the most painful diseases you can have—and doctors will tell you that there’s no cure. There isn’t even a standardized treatment or medication that works. Sufferers leave the doctor’s office with little to no hope that their condition will ever get better.

There are different stages to HS, and in stage one the sufferer may not even know they have an actual “disease.” They may think they just have weird ingrown hairs in their armpit or their nose, or zits on their butt. People that do go to the doctor usually leave with a diagnosis of: “Keep yourself cleaner, here are some antibiotics.” About once or twice a year, people with stage one HS will experience some sort of strange painful lump, zit or boil that will linger for a while and then mysteriously go away. They usually don’t even think to go to a doctor about it.

Until the disease progresses, that is. When HS reaches stage two and three, there’s no escaping or denying it anymore—that’s when the golf ball-sized boils come into play. This doesn’t happen without intense inflammation, which fortunately a Primal Blueprint eating, exercise, and lifestyle pattern help protect against substantially.

Why Don’t More People Know About HS?

You’ve probably never heard of HS, and I’m not surprised. Those of us that do have it often don’t like to talk about it. It’s super embarrassing, and we’ve been made to feel ashamed of ourselves. According to HS-USA, an online support group, there are upwards of 12 million people with HS in the United States alone, and a huge portion of this number are suffering in silence. That’s more people than are living with HIV and AIDS. HS isn’t an American problem, either. I’ve heard from people as far away as Finland, Thailand, India, and Australia who are afflicted, and who are struggling to find help.

Although you may not have heard of HS before, I guarantee that you know at least one person with it. They may not talk to you about it, or even know what it is that they have. Many people live with HS for years without ever seeing a doctor, or even telling anyone about it. HS is closely linked to depression, and sufferers may cut themselves off from friends and family in an attempt to isolate themselves. They may even attempt suicide.

When you’re in pain, it’s hard to sacrifice something that gives you pleasure, like food. But, truthfully, I am trying this because I’m at the end of my rope. I wake up some mornings and wish I had died in my sleep. I cross the street and wish that a bus would hit me just so I wouldn’t feel pain anymore. Constantly being told there’s no cure has made me seriously consider killing myself. I am a very motivated, productive, hardworking guy … so I want to try and work this out.

SJ – Toronto Canada

Conventional wisdom and the medical community are completely stumped as to what causes HS, and even how to treat it. Sufferers are subjected to pharmacological experiments and barbaric surgeries. These treatments invariably fail to work and sometimes the patient is left worse off than they were before they went to the doctors. Unfortunately, many doctors still believe that bacteria causes HS and they advise patients to keep themselves cleaner and to take a daily course of antibiotics. Some doctors even tell their patients to bathe in bleach.

Because HS can resemble several sexually transmitted diseases (depending on where it shows up), and sufferers are led to believe that they’re “dirty,” most people with HS are incredibly embarrassed and afraid to open up, in fear that they may be judged. They have often given up hope that their condition will ever get better—or may be in denial that there is a problem in the first place. There is incredible misinformation about HS out there, and sufferers often fall for scams in a desperate attempt to find help, or make themselves sick by using home remedies that are downright medieval.

So, the short answer is that no one knows about HS because no one talks about it, there’s no research being done (except to see how we react to different drugs), and most people aren’t even aware that there’s a problem. I suffered from HS for over 20 years, with no more than two months in between flare-ups and I never mentioned it to anyone. But guess what folks: I’ve been in remission now for over two full years. Not only that, but the disease also retreated from severe stage two to mild stage one during the three years before that—at the exact same time I went Primal. Altogether, I’ve been on the mend for five years. I was told this was impossible by the medical community, and told I had no options other than resigning myself to pain and suffering. This simply isn’t true, and I’ve decided to speak out about it. This condition needs a spokesperson, some better PR, and a lot of doctors need to get a freakin’ clue. I healed and reclaimed my health all by myself. I didn’t use any creams, or take antibiotics, or have surgery. I simply changed my diet and healed my intestinal tract, which was severely damaged on account of following a Standard American Diet for decades. Whether you’re suffering from severe stage three and confined to a bed, or you’re simply bothered by the lumps under your breasts or in your armpit, The Hidden Plague can help. Understanding the true cause of your skin problems is incredibly empowering, because you can use this information to heal yourself.

So, What’s The Solution?

We’ve all had a pimple at some point. Quite a few of us have even had acne that’s been embarrassing, or problems with ingrown hairs, zits on our scalps, or even little bumps on our upper arms. It’s easy to forget just how sick we used to be back in the SAD old days. Even though we’ve (hopefully) become fat-burning beasts, have energy for days, and look amazing in a swimsuit, I would go so far as to estimate that about 50 percent of us on a standard Primal or paleo diet still have some sort of issue with our skin. Inflammatory skin problems seem to be the last symptoms standing for many of us and they’re so friggin’ frustrating. Even when we cheat a tiny bit with food indulgences, we get hit like a freight train. Many of us chock this up to hormone imbalances, but the truth of the matter is that it’s more likely any skin condition you’re still experiencing after going Primal is autoimmune. That means you also have a leaky gut and probably have something called dysbiosis (a microbial imbalance in your digestive tract).

Here’s a shocker that you might want to sit up and pay attention to: It’s quite likely that some or many seemingly “safe” Primal-approved foods are aggravating your condition, or keeping you from fully healing.

Rarely do we connect what we eat to the state of our skin. However, once that connection is made it can be a wonderful awakening. It allows us to break free from the unproductive relationship many of us have found ourselves in with traditional dermatological and medical care; it puts the power to heal ourselves back in our own hands.

What Is the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?

The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, or the AIP for short, is a stricter version of the Paleo diet. Created by Robb Wolf to help heal a leaky gut (and therefore autoimmunity), the AIP removes certain foods like nightshades and eggs for a certain period of time, and then reintroduces them to see if there’s a reaction. Many people are able to heal themselves simply doing a strict AIP for 30 days, finding out what triggers them and then avoiding those foods in the future. A standard AIP works great for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis. However, there are still a number of us with inflammatory skin issues that don’t see complete relief with the AIP. That’s where my Skin Protocol (detailed in The Hidden Plague) comes in to play. If you experience autoimmune reactions like itching, boils, and acne that the standard AIP doesn’t take into account, you may benefit from further dietary restrictions. Unresolved issues like eczema, rashes, acne related to your period, dandruff, even headaches, can all be helped using the information in The Hidden Plague.

How Journaling Can Help

It took me three years to really nail down my triggers because I didn’t keep a food journal. I wasn’t very scientific when I first started out—but when I started seeing results I needed to be able to replicate them. The flare-ups seemed to be so random sometimes, but I knew deep down that there was a pattern. As soon as I started writing things down, that pattern became visible and I was able to connect a lot of dots. I’m hoping that by following the step-by-step protocol in The Hidden Plague you’ll be able to nail down your triggers in a couple of months.

The Primal Blueprint 90-day Journal can be really helpful in this journaling process, because it prompts you to take a big picture view of numerous diet, exercise and lifestyle variables that affect your energy level, mood, cognitive performance, physical performance, and status of health problems (such as an assortment of skin issues or autoimmune issues). Many people don’t know where to start when it comes to journaling, and thus might find motivation wavering. I strongly recommend taking a 90-day period of your life and recording all the data that you are directed to in the 90-Day Journal. If you happen to have annoying skin issues or other autoimmune issues, The Hidden Plague provides a detailed plan for how to find out what is triggering flare-ups in you and how to stop them. The book contains a complete Skin Protocol diet, as well as a guide to reintroduction after your restriction phase ends. You’ll learn what really causes inflammatory skin conditions, what a leaky gut is, how autoimmunity works, and how to put an autoimmune condition into remission. We’ve even got some autoimmune friendly basic recipes to get you started, including tomato-free pizza sauce and ketchup.

I want to leave you with the idea that you don’t have to suffer in silence, that you have other options besides the mainstream medical care protocol, and that you are obligated to take responsibility for your health. “Trusting your gut” is better than blindly following along with the many dietary and lifestyle practices that can destroy your health if you are not careful, or not lucky.

Special Limited-Time Offer

Mark here. First off, many thanks to Tara for sharing her very personal story with us today. When I first heard it myself, and then learned more about HS and the numerous clients she has helped overcome this autoimmune disease, I knew I wanted to help spread this important message – especially because it is so often misdiagnosed and misunderstood by the conventional medical community.

Today, I’m pleased to be able to officially announce the release of The Hidden Plague through Primal Blueprint Publishing. As per Mark’s Daily Apple tradition, I’ve put together a special limited-time offer to order this book direct from before it goes on sale to the general public. It expires on Saturday, Nov. 30, 11:59 pm PST.

Free 90-Day Journal with Purchase

Order a copy of The Hidden Plague today and get a FREE copy of The Primal Blueprint 90-Day Journal (retail value $22.95).

The 90-Day Journal is the perfect companion to Tara’s new book. It will help you track, identify, and eliminate trigger foods and behaviors, so you can begin to heal your digestive tract and immune system and end your suffering once and for all.

If you have struggled with mystery skin problems including autoimmune reactions like itching, boils, rashes and acne this book was written for you. As Tara indicated, this could be a sign that you have leaky gut and a microbial imbalance in your digestive tract, and this book can help you resolve those issues. So order your copy today and take advantage of this special free book offer. And if you know someone who you think could benefit from this book please don’t hesitate to pass this article on to them. It could be life-changing.

Read an excerpt of The Hidden Plague

Many thanks to everyone that purchases one or more copies of The Hidden Plague over the next couple weeks. Tara Grant and the entire Primal Blueprint Publishing team and I appreciate your support and hope that this new book will touch your lives just as Mark’s Daily Apple and previous Primal Blueprint books may have in the past. Grok on!

Fine Print:

  • Unlike previous retail channel promotions, this one is simple: You order the book directly from and we send you the free bonus item directly with your book order. No worries, no hassles!
  • This special bonus offer ends at 11:59 pm, Nov. 30, 2013 (PST).
  • Only orders placed on will receive the bonuses.
  • The Hidden Plague is not yet available on or at other retail locations.
  • Both domestic (U.S.) and international orders are eligible for the bonuses.

 Order Your Copy of The Hidden Plague Today!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ve been dealing with something called perioral dermatitis for a few years. (Itchy, spotty rash around the nose, chin, and even around the eyes.) Tried antibiotics, creams, everything home remedy under the sun — and nothing worked. My dermatologist said, oh so authoritatively, that diet has nothing to do with PD — that it might be hormonal or bacterial. Well, after 2+ years of that crap, I finally saw a naturopath, and she had me go on an elimination diet — no gluten, eggs, soy, corn, peanuts, or dairy. And the rash cleared up within a week. When I reintroduced foods, it was clear right away that gluten and dairy were the culprits. Problem solved, no thanks to mainstream medicine.

    SeattleSlim wrote on November 13th, 2013
  2. I have suffered with the skin condition vitiligo (loss of pigment) for about 20 years. Would this book be helpful for this skin condition?

    Kathy Baker wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • Although vitiligo is autoimmune in nature, I’m afraid I can’t testify whether or not this book would be helpful in restoring pigment to your skin. However, if you are able to heal your gut and put the vitiligo into remission, then it certainly won’t get any worse.
      Anyone else out there with this condition that could chime in?

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
      • I don’t have an answer, but I too am praying to find one. I have celiac and my four year old has vitiligo. Some research shows that being dairy and gluten free may prevent vitiligo from spreading, but nothing really brings back the pigment. There are very few research dollars spent on vitiligo because it is considered cosmetic, and much of the research is conflicting. Truth is it is an autoimmune disease and it is important to the people who suffer from it. I wish I could find more research regarding paleo/primal lifestyle and vitiligo. Thanks for your hard work Tara!

        Sara wrote on November 13th, 2013
        • I seem to remeber that I read somewhere that some specialists in Cuba can make the skin pigment come back and there has a bit of medical tourism developed over it.

          Stef wrote on November 17th, 2013
    • Hi, Tara,

      we met once @ Primal Con 2012. i don’t know if you remember me.

      before i switched diet, i was cutting down gluten. (it makes me nauseous, headache, brain fog)

      then i switched diet; went completely GF; (i.e., i don’t knowingly eat gluten). felt even better.

      after a year, i had vitiligo.

      i tried dairy free; nothing happened. except mild stomach cramps everyday (by replacing dairy w/ coconut milk/cream. go figure!

      there is a woman blogger who cured her lifelong vitiligo by GF. she even start to repigment slowly

      but i seem to be going the opposite direction.

      i suspect it’s related to thyroid. as i had been GF before vitiligo. now every 2 weeks, i find a new white patch. now, back of my neck & shoulder has almost no pigment anymore.

      & dermatologist can’t help either. sigh.

      pam wrote on November 28th, 2013
  3. Thank you Mark and Tara for your great work. My husband’s dermatologist keeps telling him his Psoriasis (which he’s dealt with for over 20 years) has nothing do with food. I’m very much looking forward to reading the book and helping him on his path to recovery. Thankfully he has become more open to ‘new’ ideas since seeing the success I’ve had with Primal eating.

    Janet wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • That’s great to hear! We wish your husband speedy recovery. It’s amazing how fast the healing can begin, once you start to heal your gut.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  4. Crazy, I think I had this for several years. In the groin area, boils and carbuncles that hurt and made me crazy. No doctor had a name or an idea how to deal with it. It went away around the time I was diagnosed with first Celiac, then T2 Diabetes, and I decided to start a basically primal diet to get my blood sugar under control. I also did about a year of a yeast eliminating/gut healing diet and supplement thing. Thanks for giving me a name for that horrible time, and an idea how to deal with it if it comes back.

    Rachael wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • Rock on Rachael! We’re so happy you’ve got this under control!

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  5. As an HS sufferer for…gosh, thirty years now…I know how awful, painful and frustrating it can be. Many of us familiar with Tara’s site have been anxious for her book to come out. There is bound to be something new to try, no matter what you have tried before.
    In the meantime, I find that applying Alpha Hydroxy lotion nightly to the HS prone areas has been very helpful in reducing flares. It might be something to try while you read the book and adjust your diet.

    Texmom wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • Thanks for the tip, TexMom. :) It’s great all the remedies that are being discussed now that we’re all coming out of the closet about this!

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  6. Tomatoes (any format, right down to catsup) causes ezcema for me. And a separate ‘break out’ I have had for the past 20 years (I’m 62)…I have discovered since I gave up chocolate entirely on 10/30….has disappeared. It was chocolate.

    I firmly believe in this!

    Gwen wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • Thanks Gwen! Tomatoes are off my list, too.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  7. Hi Tara,

    Congratulations on your great work! I suffered from dermatological problems for almost 2 years before I was finally diagnosed with Lupus and given the information I needed to greatly reduce my symptoms: AVOID LIGHTS.

    As a black woman it had never occurred to me that I might be photosensitive but finally meeting a dermatologist who could give me useful information changed things.

    I have a friend who suffers from HS and I’ve forwarded your book info to her. This is very timely because she is just now trying to decide if she should make dietary changes, and I don’t think she had considered how they could help her abate her HS symptoms.

    T. wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • Thanks, T! I’m sure your friend will thank you, as do I. I hope you’re taking a Vitamin D supplement, though, if you’re avoiding all light! :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  8. Tara (and Mark!)

    I hope I don’t sound too whacky when you read that I burst into tears when I read your post here and then, your posts on Primal Girl, about Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). I have suffered from something that sounds suspiciously like HS for over twenty years and so much of what you have written about the problem resonates so strongly – including the embarrassment and shame associated with feeling ‘dirty’, and the remarkable lack of knowledge or empathy I have received from the medical profession.

    I have been on a Primal diet since January and, while my condition has improved, it is certainly still there.

    I have bought the book and I am emailing a link to this page to my new GP (a Paleo advocate). Looks like the AI protocol is in my near future… I so hope it is the answer.

    Heartfelt thanks. Really.

    Joanna wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • You are so welcome Joanna. I’m rooting for you. :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 13th, 2013
  9. I honestly wept when I saw this book. I have suffered (and those with HS know that “suffered” is a kind word) since I was 9. I am now 45. I was diagnosed in 1996, but my only options were surgery. Then in 2007, RA drugs.
    Can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Thank you Tara for putting yourself out there.

    Lynn Leslie wrote on November 13th, 2013
  10. Thank you Tara! I can’t wait to get your book. I stumbled onto your website two months ago when I was suffering the worst flare up I have ever had (missing work, difficulty walking from the excrutiating pain, etc) and finally felt that someone understood! And that I wasn’t crazy, and maybe there is hope. I started Paleo AI protocol in mid-September and am seeing improvement but there is still a ways to go to get to remission. Your website gave me the courage to finally tell my sister that I have this hideous problem called HS (well, actually you told her, I sent her links to the articles on your website for her to read). Its a great feeling to not have to keep this secret and to believe that there is hope. Thank you!

    Nicole wrote on November 13th, 2013
  11. Thank you so much Mark for bringing Tara to us. I first found her website several months back through a link I believe I found somewhere on this site. I was SHOCKED to find out that what I suffered was ‘something’ and I wasn’t the only one suffering from it. Then, I quickly lost her site and could NOT find it again. I’ve suffered from HS for well over 20 years but several years ago I [all by myself] figured it was related to my alcohol consumption. I was drinking heavily at that time [rum and wine (not together] so I ditched the rum and things got a little better but not totally. I continued drinking wine and added brandy and periodic episodes with the PAINFUL boils came back. Try to not walk like a zombie with a painful boil on your upper inside thigh or try moving your head normally with a big boil on the back of your neck – ouch! Then last year I stopped drinking. Period. Not easy but the knowledge that painful symptoms might go away was enough for me to persevere. That lasted for a few weeks before the sugar cravings struck. Hard. Just last week after eating [engulfing] the Halloween candy the kids did not come to get it came back. Inner thigh. Sugar = pain.

    I’ll be getting your book to see what else might be my culprit [Please not nightshades!].

    Thanks for the good work Woman!

    Crystal wrote on November 13th, 2013
  12. Hoo boy, I’m a vegetarian that tries in every other way to go primal, for protein I drink whey protein powder with almond milk and I eat a lot of free range eggs. I started recently trying to adhere to a FODMAPS regimen, but some nightshades are on that list. Going to buy a copy of this book because of a rash on my arms that won’t go away, I’m partially thankful and partially discouraged, it’s already a pain trying to get nourishment that fits in with a healthy lifestyle and my personal choices (BTW I do NOT in the least judge those that choose to eat meat, like everyone else in my family). Anyway, should be an interesting and eye-opening read I’m sure.

    George wrote on November 13th, 2013
  13. Alas, none of my acne rosacea went away when I went paleo. My weight loss was glacial, too – approximately 3/4 lbs a month. Aka, the reason I do not hang out on paleo forums, because it’s too depressing. Took me 4 1/2 years to lose 50lbs, where I plateaued for a year, then went off paleo due to a nervous breakdown (I was waiting for medical treatment in a foreign country, and felt that seeking help for mental issues would not help my case any. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as I was kicked off the treatment list for being too fat)(why yes, I am still bitter, why do you ask?)

    The only time my face clears up is when I don’t eat. Not when I do an elimination diet, but when I literally do not eat for a few days. Comes back the instant I put food in my mouth – any food.

    I’m so glad your HS cleared up – it looks so painful!!!

    Orodemniades wrote on November 13th, 2013
  14. I learned so much from your prior post here on MDA about HS, and that I most likely have had the condition for nearly 30 years. I used your post as a jumping-off point to research further. For years, I had the same responses from doctors as others have mentioned…until this year when I went to my GYN for my yearly appt. He noted the scars I have and told me it was an auto-immune condition (which I had previously learned from your post) and recommended a low-carb diet, imagine my (smug, but pleased) shock that he found out about HS at nearly the same time I did. I give him credit for having new knowledge, but it would be nice if he had more to go with than “low-carb”. It’s a start. Maybe I he needs a copy of your book, too. I’ve been seeing this doctor for 15+ years, and he had previously brushed the issue aside and just called it “boils”, which it’s not, and now he knows that. Unfortunately, I’m still on my own to fix it. Nightshades may be my demon, as well, but I have yet to eliminate them to find out. I’m just afraid a world without potatoes may be worse than one without wheat (which wasn’t that terrible, really :-)). So I think I’ll be ordering your book to help me with that. Thanks!

    Connie wrote on November 13th, 2013
  15. Is this a pre-order, or will the book ship right away after I order it?

    primalpal wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • This is not a pre-order. The book ships immediately.

      Mark Sisson wrote on November 13th, 2013
      • Thanks!

        primalpal wrote on November 14th, 2013
  16. I have been suffering from exfoliative cheilitis for almost a year now, and it’s just getting worse. My lips will form a thick layer of dead skin, which will eventually peel off, exposing raw skin underneath, and the process continues again, repeating every few days. I’ve seen two dermatologists (the first one didn’t know how to help and referred me to the second) for over a month now, I’m now on my 4th prescribed ointment, but my condition remains.

    Do you think this regimen can help? My disorder is so rare and so little research has been done on it that I’m terrified nobody will be able to help me. Mark I have been following your blog for many years now and I do love all the information you provide, but I do not keep a strict Paleo diet by any means. Just a few days ago I started a juice cleanse, drinking 6 raw fruit and vegetable juices a day, hoping to rid my system of any toxins and help myself heal. Reading this article about Tara’s book started to give me a glimmer of hope. Do you think trying the AIP could help a condition like the one I have? I know it’s nothing like HS, but I’m starting to run out of ideas.

    Josh wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • I can’t tell you for sure if it will help or not, but I’m pretty confident that it won’t hurt or make it worse. You’ve got nothing to lose, IMO. Be careful with the raw fruit and veggie juices – they can absolutely be a problem, depending on which ingredients you use and whether or not you include the peels.
      Let us know if you see any improvement! Your condition sounds very painful and I’m sure you’re very driven to see it end. :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
  17. Looks very interesting! I’ve already emailed the link out to a couple of folks I know!

    bjjcaveman wrote on November 13th, 2013
  18. Tara,

    thank you for this!

    I’m suffering from ulcerative colitis and the other symptoms as mentioned. Any thoughts on this disease?

    Your book available in South Africa? Otherwise I’ll have to wait for the kindle edition. Will probably not receive your book before 1 December if ordered now.



    Casper Badenhorst wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Hi Casper! Ulcerative colitis is also autoimmune and can absolutely be helped with an AIP. It’s often “linked” to HS and other autoimmune skin conditions because autoimmunity can attack us on more than one front at the same time.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
  19. Thank you so much for this post!! I’ve been AIP for nearly a year and my eczema is gone. Skin problems are so ……haunting. So many people just live with the pain because it’s “just a rash”. I will definitely spread the word about this book!!

    Stephanie wrote on November 14th, 2013
  20. Tara, what are your thoughts on water kefir for someone with skin issues? It’s full of probiotics but it also contains yeast which I know can be problematic.

    Sarah wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Yeast is a trigger for me, so I stay away from most fermented foods. Sad, I know. It will end up being individual to you, so I suggest removing it for 30 days and then reintroducing to see what effect it has on you.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
  21. Looking forward to a great read! This will be an excellent resource…

    Darryl Edwards wrote on November 14th, 2013
  22. Hi Tara,

    I wanted to thank you for having the courage to share your ordeal, and how you have dealt with it, with the world. So many of us are too embarrassed to say anything about our issues and will accept that the doctor says there is nothing wrong. I have been told so many times that my acne, eczema and rosacea are all hormone related yet when I have my hormones tested, everything comes back as “normal”. I have been eating primal and have lost weight and generally feel better but have not had any luck with my skin issues so I will wait patiently for the kindle version of your book to be released and will definitely be getting it!

    Your story has given me hope that I can be 35 years old and not have the terrible skin of a teenager anymore!!

    Thanks again :)

    Jodi wrote on November 14th, 2013
  23. Tara, thanks for all of your great thinking on these issues. You are an inspiration.

    My primal adventure began only a year ago (I’m 43), but I’m already feeling the benefits, particularly in improved digestion, and ever improving body composition. I’m hoping that continued dedication will cure me of vitiligo, a condition that I first noticed 10 years ago as a tiny spot on my face and that has grown gradually for years. I’ve also struggled with a lousy immune system (a cold or flu would floor me for two to three times longer than the average person), severe seasonal allergies, general body discomfort, and bowel irregularity just to name a few. As a life-long athlete, and someone who people always thought was fit (based on the way I looked), a friend once aptly described me as: “the unhealthiest healthy person I know.”

    Here are a few of my successes and observations that others may benefit from:

    – I had “chicken skin” (I had not heard that term until you used it, but it’s perfect) on my upper arms for years through my 20’s. Taking vitamins daily made this go away. It must have been primarily vitamin D, because liberal sun exposure in the summertime also helped dramatically.

    – A coworker told me that consuming a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily (mixed with water – it’s very pungent stuff) cured her of life long skin problems. I’m experimenting with this for general health, and to see if it helps with the vitiligo problem.

    – A friend convinced me that water soluble vitamins are the way to go, and he said that since he began taking Beyond Tangy Tangerine he hasn’t gotten sick once. And this from a guy who’s around sick school kids all the time. So far so good for me, too. And it tastes pretty good as well.

    – The Primal Blueprint convinced me of something that for years I had an inkling of, but always disregarded: the importance of not over-training. My body has responded so much better to doing less frequent weight training.

    – Adding an adjustable stand-up table to my office has enabled me to periodically work sitting or standing, and for someone who spends 10 hours a day melting my eyeballs in front of a computer, it has helped immensely. Back and shoulder tightness, and joint discomfort, have diminished dramatically.

    – Since changing from milk to almond milk with my morning coffee, “morning phlegm” has diminished.

    I’m sure there’s more to come and I can’t wait to see what other benefits the PB has in store for me. I’m looking forward to making the PrimalCon pilgrimage one day and meeting some of you inspirational people.

    In reason and good premises,

    Kramer wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Thanks Kramer, all great observations and tips! I have to avoid the apple cider vinegar, as I have a yeast intolerance, but other supplements are very important to healing from autoimmunity. I certainly hope you can make it out to a PrimalCon! It would be fab to meet you.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
  24. Hi Tara. Wow. I really admire what you’ve done. You look great and I congratulate you and taking your health into your own hands. I will be sure to get the book when it comes out on Kindle.

    Do you know anything about timea versicolor? A yeast issue that doctors say has no cure. I haven’t been able to find the trigger yet. Sometimes is seems like alcohol, humidity, dairy, etc or sometimes it just feels random.

    Thanks again. Great work.

    BW wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • I’ve never heard of that condition, but if it’s yeast related, then you’re going to have a BUNCH of triggers that you’re probably not even aware of — things like mushrooms, fermented foods, sour cream, even grapes. If you’re experiencing completely “random” flare-ups, this is the FIRST thing I would look into. :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
  25. Awesome – exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve suffered from eczema all my life (nearly 40 now) and always had the same thing from doctors about slapping on emolient and steroids. Rubbish… So I’ve taken my own steps with a paleo diet etc and definitely after a strict few months on the way to healthiness.

    Have you tried:

    Taking l-glutamine supplements? (great for healing gut and skin)
    Intermitant fasting? promotes cells to repair themselves rather than just dying and replacing
    Any steps to kill off any likely candida overgrowth in your gut? (part of the whole rebalancing of the gut flora and healing of the wall)

    I’ve been posting things up on

    Great to see you’ve done a book and we can only hope for future generations it gets adopted. Actually I’m a bit annoyed as you got there first (with the book!!)

    Ben wrote on November 14th, 2013
  26. Tara:

    Thank you so much for your articles on HS. I was at my wits end after my dermatologist told me I would have to be on high level antibiotics for the rest of my life to treat HS and even that wasn’t working. I found what you wrote on your blog and started paleo that day. I haven’t had a boil in 5 months! I have had them consistently since I was 9 years old. I can’t thank you enough for having the courage to put it out there. I am off pretty much all of my medicine now! Depression meds, antibiotics, nerve pain medicine…all of it has been fixed by eating paleo.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You are amazing and I’m so grateful for you and your blog! :)

    Ashleigh wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • That’s fantastic Ashleigh! :) You are so welcome, and thank YOU for your story!

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
  27. I suffered from HS for years before discovering the paleo diet, which helped a lot, but I still had flare ups. Then my HS led to an infection in my armpit, and a surgery to remove the infection, which refused to heal properly. That was a about a year ago, and my armpit refused to fully heal, with near-constant flare-ups at the incision site. I’ve never experienced such a depression from feeling helpless to do anything about the HS.

    Thankfully, I found Tara’s website a few months ago and discovered (in addition to what the name of this problem was) that white potatoes were causing this. My armpit has now fully healed, and I haven’t had a flare-up since.

    Thank you for bringing more attention to HS! I never told anyone about what I was suffering through, and can only imagine how many are out there suffering silently and feeling helpless.

    Jeremy wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Oh wow, that’s great Jeremy! I hope you’ll continue to heal and to spread the word that this condition can totally be helped with diet. I understand the helplessness. It’s okay to feel that for a little while – but then we need to get up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work. I’m so glad you found my blog and that you’re actively healing. :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
  28. Tara,

    Your article almost brought me to tears. I have suffered HS for 14 years now and your story is almost identical to mine. With the exception that I am still in stage 2 with absolutely no relief. I have purchased your book and I am a bag of mixed emotions right now. To begin with I have never met anyone who has suffered the same condition as I, and second it took me years to finally accept the fact that I would have to live like this for the rest of my life. I am excited to read your book and finally get some relief. This disease has affected every aspect of my life, and words cannot express the desire I have to change, and help myself. Thank You.

    Maritza wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Hi Maritza, I’m so glad that you found me! You’re not alone, there are millions of us out there. Would you be interested in joining a Facebook support group? I suggest HS & The Diet Connection, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa Warriors. Both groups have hundreds of dynamic, motivated HS sufferers. It can help so much to just put your story out there, and to hear back from people who are in the same boat as you. :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013
      • Thanks for the suggestions! I have joined the groups. I am looking forward to what comes next!

        Maritza wrote on November 14th, 2013
  29. I have HS and Fibromyalgia. I started the autoimmune protocol (diet) Jan 2, 2013 and am still trying to sort out my triggers, especially for HS. Nightshades, especially potatoes are an instant trigger. It’s difficult and frustrating to look for gluten-free food options only to discover they contain potato starch or potato flour. Sometimes, despite the closest examination of food labels, I still get whammied by a hidden trigger. It takes less than 24 hours for symptoms to present, and it’s no fun riding out the storm.

    I’ve found that as soon as I have the first symptoms, I have to step back into a very pure autoimmune protocol way of eating and double up on my probiotics. I’m pretty sure there is a trigger I’m overlooking and it will just take time to sort it out. I’m just thankful that I only get flares every couple of months instead of a constant, back to back series of episodes.

    PMMcDuffie wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Thanks PM! It sounds like you’re in the right track. The book will be pretty helpful to discover those tricky hidden triggers. Doubling up on probiotics is the same thing I do when I’ve been “dosed.” It seems to help quite a lot.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 14th, 2013

    Tinea versicolor is a pretty common skin condition where the yeast that lives on your skin gets out of control. You can get rid of it but it always seems to come back. I’m not sure if an elimination diet would help.

    BW wrote on November 14th, 2013
  31. Hi Tara,
    Congratulations on all your successes! Here’s to more!

    Reading your story yesterday started making all kinds of “seemingly unrelated” childhood/adolescent memories come back to me and I realize now that they weren’t unrelated at all. Horrible fungal rashes on my feet and between all my toes, behind my knees, inside my elbows and wrists, painful “acne” in my arm pits, which I NEVER told anyone about, acne on my face, then my bottom, then my groin. Oh God, the embarrassment! I was the “weird” kid, or so I thought.

    Years later I developed joint and muscle issues which some Dr. called fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, then self-diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome, then sciatica, weight gain, severe depression, and general despair (suicidal fantasies).

    My mother lived a most heinous life, suffering with MS for 28 years. Not wanting to end the way she did has driven me to pursue answers like nothing else in my life.
    Discovering Primal and following most of it’s protocols has given me a life I couldn’t ever imagine having. I thought I was just going to have to suffer and live that way forever, but now I finally know what ‘Happyness’ feels like. My problems were nowhere near as severe as yours, but my life-long anger, depression, and despair were especially debilitating, and no one cared-they thought I was just bitchy, selfish and lazy. I was.

    Your story is enlightening to say the least, and I realized that I still have some nagging skin and joint issues that may need a stricter diet protocol to resolve, once and for all. I’m looking forward to reading your book and benefiting from your experience and wisdom. Thank you sincerely and I wish you all the best.


    P.S. I’m still the “weird” kid (55), but now I embrace it in all it’s Primal glory!

    Jen wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Thank you Jen. :) I’m pretty sure that most of us in the Primal community were the “weird” kids at some point in our lives, haha. I’m the weird one now when I only eat the food I brought to a party, or when I fast while out at a restaurant. (Or when I bring my own butter to Red Lobster for that matter.) Good luck nailing down those final triggers! I’m here if you need support.

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
  32. Hi Tara,
    I found your website about a year ago and had the pleasure of meeting you in Portland over the summer. I can’t express what a relief it has been to know there are others with HS and that there is a way to end it. I’ve had it since I was about 12 and it can be very hard to deal with. I almost cried when I met you, because I’ve never met anyone with it before (that they speak of, at least). I cannot wait to get your book, although I have to wait until the end of March, since I’m living out of the country. I am ordering it tonight so my next visitor can bring it to me! Thank you for speaking out and sharing your wealth of information with us all!

    Megan wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Not Tara,

      I just found out it had a name yesterday.
      I can very much relate to your comment about the relief it is to know someone else really understands our private hell.
      Those horrific moments in the shower with a gaping wound and blood and pus running down your leg.
      Having to walk at work when you’re in agony and every step rubs on it, then not being able to work, and on and on…

      While I will bear the scars from years of this, here’s hoping that not only will Tara’s book will reach all the other long term suffering folks like us, but also prevent years of agony for those just starting out.

      Your suffering certainly wasn’t in vain Tara.

      You’re not alone Megan! I shed some tears yesterday.

      Chris wrote on November 14th, 2013
      • “Here’s hoping that not only will Tara’s book will reach all the other long term suffering folks like us, but also prevent years of agony for those just starting out.”

        Last year, I received an email from a 12-year old girl who had recently started suffering from HS. She told me she wanted to kill herself, because of the pain and the social isolation. I sat and cried for a couple days. Then, I wrote three entire chapters of the book. I don’t want anyone else to go through the psychological torture that we did as teenagers if they don’t have to. If, by “outing” myself I can save just one person, it will have been worth it. And I can see that just by raising the issue–and having a discussion about it–that many people now feel a sense of hope where there once was none. We have the power to reclaim our health. This is the main thing that Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint lifestyle gave to me — the knowledge that I have the power to be healthy, vital, strong, and vibrant, and the RIGHT to be all of these things, on my own terms.

        Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • You were also the first person I had met in person that had HS too (and would admit it). It was life changing for me as well. I’m so glad that we’ve kept in touch and that you’re doing so much better now. I don’t want you to have to wait until March, email me…

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
  33. I wonder if anyone has explored the connection between leaky gut and physical exercise, particularly jogging? I don’t know exactly what my triggers are but I notice my skin (particularly my hands) clearing up more the longer I eat just fresh meat and veg (no wheat, sugar, in particular) and the less I run…. I’m not suggesting exercise of this type causes leaky gut but I wonder if all that bopping up and down on a treadmill is advisable for someone who may already be susceptible to gut leakage type issues?

    al wrote on November 14th, 2013
  34. Thank you for posting this here. I don’t even have the link to your original post on HS, but I remember being linked there a while back. That post changed my life, because I’ve suffered from this for so long and was always so embarrassed. Imagine being a competitive female swimmer who dreads shaving because of the following inflammation! I’ve luckily figured out my main trigger foods and stay away from them. (Dairy is the biggest culprit. Egg whites are right up there, too.) I already knew I was severely gluten intolerant. Honestly the change was so remarkable.

    Like you, I never talked about it. It’s so horrible when I have flares. (I have other skin conditions as well, and I worry about either people thinking I have lice or showing up in the summer with bumps on my arms.)

    I highly encourage anyone with inflammatory skin issues to do an elimination diet. I’m not one for removing things from my diet unnecessarily. It’s well worth doing it temporarily to see if it helps. Better than using unnecessary pharmaceuticals.

    C wrote on November 14th, 2013
  35. Hi! I’ve recently diagnosed myself with a candida fungal overgrowth after doctors could not figure out what was causing a rash all over my body, worse in the exact same areas as HS – but i did not have the boils. I was on steroids, antibiotics and creams, and other things that made no difference.
    I’ve cut out sugar as much as I can, take supplements to fight candida, and I am soon much better but thinking what I have is related to HS somehow? I think I have something like autoimmune, and leaky gut.

    Carol wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • That may very well be correct. Trying a modified AIP is the first thing I would do. You’ve got nothing to lose, except for the itching! :)

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
  36. Hello. I am interested in your experience Tara, about what foods worked for you and what didn’t. I also notice I feel apprehensive/a bit guarded that the only way to access the information is to buy your book. As I consider my resistance to buying the book, I notice that your post elicits in me a (familiar) fear and desperation to seek something, anything, that will “rid” me of my skin “problem/s.” I also notice an opposite feeling, one of distrust, because I know in my heart that nothing is wrong with me and thus there is nothing to fix. From that stance, I know that our skin is a valuable messenger that shows us when something we are doing is harmful – be that food, emotionally, or whatever. I notice that when I am able to approach healing or health seeking from a place of curiosity and self-love, rather than of fear, that I feel happier and more calm. My impression is that this post feels more fear based – I think primarily because I interpret the withholding of information until paying for it as more “cure” like. I wanted to share my impressions with you so that you could have the feedback should you want it. I am glad that you have found something that has helped you!

    Megan wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Hi Megan,
      I originally posted about HS on my blog at almost two years ago. In those two posts, there is enough information to get you started on your path to healing. I’ve also been helping thousands of people, one-on-one, for free for the last two years. The main reason I wrote the book is that the blog posts are not nearly detailed enough to help everyone, and I am overextended and overwhelmed trying to help everyone by myself. I tried to make sure that the book was a comprehensive guide, and had all the information and facts one would need in order to be able to heal themselves, by themselves.
      I encourage you to check out the original posts at Here are the links:

      Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Thank you for this response – I found those two posts helpful!

        Megan wrote on November 25th, 2013
  37. Tara, congrats on the book and thanks for putting it out there for all those suffering with this disease. Sounds horrible. I don’t have any skin problems nor do I have any known illnesses at this time. I’m all about prevention though. So, I try to adhere to a primal lifestyle and am always interested to hear about what’s out there. Thanks to you and Mark both!

    Ara wrote on November 15th, 2013
  38. Hi Tara, I was very interested in your post. Just wondering if you have any info on chronic hives. I’ve been suffering for >3 yrs now. I’ve been mostly paleo but no improvement. Only relief has been from monthly injections of xolair (an anti-IgE antibody). I haven’t tried an autoimmune diet yet. Thanks!

    Laurie zimmermann wrote on November 15th, 2013

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