Many fibromites have trouble doing seemingly-simple tasks: washing hair, applying makeup, and even just cleansing one’s face can appear impossibly difficult in the face of a full-on flare. Perhaps some of the suggestions on this page may help.
Bathing and Showering
Too sore to shower, but too depressed by the sight of your greasy hair? Try a dry shampoo, available in powder or spray form. Easier than taking a shower and less messy than washing your hair over a sink, giving yourself a dry shampoo can help perk up your day.
An adjustable shower head, preferably one with multiple settings, can make cleaning up easier and more comfortable. Try the gentlest setting (usually “rain” or something similar – the installation guide should tell you) and let the water course over you. The models attached to a swinging “arm” are easier to use than the hand-held versions: they allow you to position the shower head directly over the muscles that need the most soothing without having to hold the whole thing in place. Moreover, if you already have a shower head you like, most models can be retrofitted with an arm. Installation is relatively simple, but take breaks as you need them!
Shower shoes might be a helpful addition to your bathroom routine: stick-on tub decals are great, but they can’t prevent a slip on a tiled floor.
Some days, using bar soap can be downright painful: not only do you have to clutch the slippery bar tightly to keep from dropping it, but then you have to rub it against your fragile body. Slippery or not, that can hurt! Try using a foaming body wash that you can smooth on with your hands, or squirt a little shower gel onto a soft scrubbie and glide it along your body, for an easier clean.
Choose a mesh scrubbie over a washcloth when showering or bathing – it’s easier to grasp the larger, lighter mesh than to clutch a water-sodden cloth. Also, the mesh allows soap suds to glide over your skin with very little friction, whereas even the lightest touch with a washcloth can be painful.
Light layers of clothing are wonderful in summer’s heat, but thin fabrics don’t always protect against sunburn. As a safeguard, wear sunscreen under your clothes.
Wear lip balm. Having cracked and chapped lips will just make you cranky. Soft, smooth lips will help you feel more like yourself.
Many fibromites use sunless tanners to help eradicate that “been-indoors-too-long” pallor. However, most brands recommend that you exfoliate your skin before use, which can be painful. Take a tip from Sunless.com: skip those scrubs and rub yourself gently with a wet washcloth in the shower. And remember to choose a brand that includes SPF, just in case you do go outside!
Applying a silky coat of body lotion may sound great, but some varieties are almost too creamy and thick to smooth on comfortably. Try diluting too-thick lotions and creams with a little water: they’ll go on with greater ease and more complete coverage, and they’ll also be absorbed into your skin more quickly. Don’t add water directly to the lotion bottle, though – squirt out a little product into your hand and gently blend in a little water.
Central sensitization can make sunburns feel even worse. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, as well as to skin protected by only lightweight clothing. Try using a lip balm with sun protection as well.
After washing your face, apply moisturizer that contains sunscreen – no matter the time of year, and even if you’re planning to stay in all day. Knowing that you’re prepared to face the world can be a great attitude booster.
Hand and Foot Care
As fibromyalgia takes hold of our bodies, proper foot care can become difficult to maintain – it’s often painful to stretch our arms that far! One product that can help is the Pistol-Grip Remote Toe-Nail Clipper: it’s eighteen inches long, which makes it easier to reach your feet.
Give yourself a manicure from time to time: file your nails, (gently) push back your cuticles, and apply some soothing lotion or cream. It can really help your mood!
General Grooming Tips
Depending on your tolerance for aromas, consider dabbing some perfume or scented oils behind your ears or on your wrists for a quick uplift. If these pose a problem, gently rubbing an uncut lemon along your arm or hand will do the same thing – and provide a light massage in the bargain.
Many fibromites have dental problems, which can be exacerbated by the pain caused by the simple (?) act of brushing one’s teeth. A battery- or electric-powered toothbrush can save unnecessary arm motion, getting teeth cleaner with less effort. Another complication is that many fibromites are less likely to see dentists regularly – again, because of the pain involved. Retired dentist Jane Walpole has put together an informative document entitled “Finding and Working with Dentists” that may help. [Thanks to the Fibromyalgia Information Foundation for sharing this important information!]
Just out of the shower? Brushing a wet and tangled head of hair can be agony. Consider patting on a little leave-in conditioner or adding a light spritz of detangling spray before brushing or combing. Also, consider changing your hairbrush itself. I’ve had good luck using a flat-handled wooden brush with firm bristles set wide apart and capped with little balls. The broad handle is easy to grasp, and the sturdy bristles glide through even long hair.