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26 'Hacks' That Can Make Showering Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness

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With chronic illness, it’s no secret that the pain, fatigue and other symptoms can impose limitations on your life. However, illness can affect parts of your daily routine that the average healthy person might take for granted – including showering. While taking a shower or a bath may be an enjoyable and relaxing activity for many, it can be a dreaded chore for those who struggle with illness. Showers can exacerbate pain, exhaustion or vertigo and on some days, they’re just not going to happen.

Even if a full, standing shower isn’t possible, there may be alternative ways for you to keep feeling clean without the daily hassle. We asked our Mighty community to share the “hacks” they use to make showering (or bathing) with chronic illness easier. If you struggled to shower today, that’s OK. You’re not alone.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I intentionally avoid taking a full shower on days when I have other commitments. Even with a chair, a shower requires considerable recovery time, so I do my best not to overlap shower days with errands, doctor appointments or other energy-draining activities.”

2. “Grab bar/handle with suction cups. Doesn’t need to be permanently installed, don’t need tools. Helpful when balance and pain are an issue.”

3. “I make sure to take a shower when I have plenty of time to myself. That way I can take my time and not have to feel rushed.”

4. “I use two-in-one baby shampoo/conditioner because it rinses out easily, and minimizes the time I spend using my arms/hands.”

5. “I have a step to help me into the bath along with railings on the wall for support. I also have a seat which is like a panel that fits across the top of the bath. I do prefer a hot bath however, as I love my Epsom salts with sea salt and lavender or some Lush bath bombs to cheer me up. The panel allows me to rest before lowering myself into the bath, and when getting out allows me to sit and swivel out. This prevents any accidents of slipping or passing out from getting up too quick.”

6. “I cut my hair short not only because I’m losing a lot of it due to lupus, but so I can take care of it easier. That way I’m not spending most of my shower washing/rinsing my hair with my arms up.”

7. “A shower caddy at shoulder height with everything I need (shampoo, soap, etc.) so I don’t have to bend or stretch. Plus I hang my towel over the shower curtain so I don’t need to stretch for that too.”

8. “Electric razor! I shave my legs in bed with an electric razor so I don’t have to worry about shaving in the shower.”

9. “I have recently found that, although cold water doesn’t feel great, it helps me with the dizziness and weakness I experience in the shower.”

10. “My biggest ‘hack’ that everyone laughs at (but still thinks is genius) is that, since I’ve had my entire spine reconstructed and can’t bend at all to reach from my waist down to dry… I use my hair dryer to dry myself really well! It might sound silly, but it works like a charm and those places where you really want to be dry and not get any rashes? Well, it works! Just don’t have the dryer on high heat.”

11. “Squeeze bottles and tubes are a problem. Pump bottles are much easier on the joints.”

12. “I do different things on different days. Shampoo on one day, full body wash the next day and then the next day I take the time to wax my legs because it lasts so much longer than shaving. That way I am never trying to cram it all in at once, and using up all the energy I have for just that one task. Spreading it all out works so much better.”

13. “A shower chair is a definite help. Even if you aren’t using it to sit on, I find it makes life a lot easier to set things on also so they are all in easy reach!”

14. “One thing I have found recently that is kinda cheating is dry body wash. It’s a foam that is antibacterial and all you do is rub it in where you want and it just helps freshen you up. Instead of just masking odors, it treats the cause. I can’t shower as much as I would like to, so this foam means I can easily freshen up on the days where I can’t have a full shower. It’s also perfect for hospital stays!”

15. “I warm up before. I do my stretching. Nothing to difficult or intensive. It’s very gentle but it helps me get the ‘rust’ away! That way a shower is less painful.”

16. “I have a handheld shower head. Putting it on the massage spray setting but leaving the water pressure low allows me to choose where the water hits with the least amount of pain. The regular spray setting feels like 1,000 little rocks hitting me and is exhausting.”

17. “I love using essential oil shower bombs. The aromas can help ease migraines, congestion and promote sleep.”

18. “Using a shower filter to remove the water treatment chemicals as when the chemicals in the water get heated they make me sicker, and likely to faint.”

19. “I leave the door open. The steam always makes me feel worse during my shower.”

20. “I don’t always wash my hair. If I’m tired to begin with, but need to shower, I take a shower with my hair in a ponytail then use dry shampoo. It saves tons of effort and usually no one but me knows my hair is dirty!”

21. “When I was younger, I would faint in the shower. I started wearing a bikini so I wouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable when they came to get me.”

22. “My shower chair is a lifesaver but the biggest help is my partner. I really struggle trying to wash my hair as I can’t keep my arms up for long. So having him wash my hair is amazing. He also helps dry the bits I can’t reach.”

23. “A trick I learned was instead of drying off, I have a terry cloth bathrobe that I put on when I get out of the shower. That way it absorbs the water so I don’t have to towel dry and while I’m waiting to dry I get to rest from taking a shower.”

24. “I play music because then it keeps me going and feeling better while in there.”

25. “[I have] chronic migraine and allodynia… Loosely interlace your fingers and keep them between the spay and your head when rinsing. The water still gets through and does its job, but you don’t get the direct impact on your throbbing head.”

26. “The biggest ‘hack’ I have is to remind yourself that you do have a health condition, so if you don’t have the energy to shower one day, it’s completely OK.”

What hacks help make showering or bathing easier for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: August 3, 2017
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