Question Time: Personal Care Items

Question Time is a series in which we open up the floor to you, commenters. We invite you to share as you feel comfortable.

Do you use any personal care items–“frivolous” things included–as part of your self-care? If so, what do you use? How have these items helped you with your condition(s)? Please feel free to include links/information and whatnot if you think other commenters and/or contributors may be interested.

About Annaham

Annaham (they/them) is a feminist with several disabilities who occasionally updates their personal blog. They currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area with their partner, and an extremely spoiled Yorkie/Pom mix named Sushi. You can reach them by emailing hamdotblog AT gmail dot com.

23 thoughts on “Question Time: Personal Care Items

  1. The important ones would be earplugs and I go through a lot of them what with having an earplug-stealing cat. I also have an eyemask that I can actually tolerate sleeping in recently (it became critical when I had to sleep in a very bright environment for a few nights) — I think the wife found it at Walgreens?

    I like Burt’s Bees body wash for men. It’s fucking near impossible to find anything completely unscented but this is subtle enough that I can deal. Pretty much anything marketed for women is too strongly scented for me. Some things, like anything with cocoa butter in, are right out.

  2. Norah, by “personal care items” I mean anything from bath items to things that make certain daily activities easier in your life as a PWD. For example, I really like the miniature heating packs from Bucky – though they are meant for kids, they are small enough that one can heat them all in the microwave and apply them to multiple sore spots (I have chronic pain, so being able to have effective multiple heat packs is important).

    I hope that clears it up!
    .-= Annaham´s last blog ..HIATUS. =-.

  3. kaninchenzero – I feel your pain on finding the right stuff to put on your skin. I’d love to be all liberal and organic and “vote with my dollars” and whatnot, but I’ve found what works, and by works I mean doesn’t make me erupt in hives. (Dove bodywash is the shiznit.) My biggest bug-a-boo has always been lotion – so many have alcohol, which burns so bad, even when I don’t have visible open sores. And the stuff that I worshiped when I had a skin infection feels grody now – and unfortunately, as my mom learned, it looks a lot like a “regular” (alcoholic) lotion – much screaming on my part. (Eucerin was so awesome for that time.)

    Vaseline is also good – my feet are dry and sore, so I do what I’m told and wear socks to bed. Yesterday I felt like the Little Mermaid in the original story.

    Annaham, sometimes heating packs (and sitting in front of the fire) help me and my pain, but not for long – they’re just too hot, too uncomfortable. Do the ones from Bucky (since they’re small?) not get you overheated? Or am I just overheated most of the time.

  4. I have an iced eye pack for sleeping. It helps me not wake up with a headache every stinkin day.

  5. Kaitlyn, I *highly* recommend the Bucky ones – you can heat them as little or as much as you like and they are still pretty effective at retaining heat/warmth. You can also freeze them, if you prefer cold packs!

    And as long as we’re on the topic of lotions for sensitive skin, I’ll put in a plug for LUSH’s Dream Cream, as well as their other lotions; quite pricey, but if your skin is like mine and responds poorly to the more conventional lotions/skin creams out there, worth the monetary cost.
    .-= Annaham´s last blog ..HIATUS. =-.

  6. Ear plugs! Of all the ones I’ve tried, I find the closed-cell polyurethane foam to be the best combo of silence and comfort—also cheap! less then US$1 per pair.

    Heat packs/cold packs! I’ve tried countless types, and I say with great certainty that this Thermalon neck wrap is the best one ever. It freezes fast, it nukes fast, and best of all it’s comfy, including a very long & easy-to-tie integrated strap. It fits my neck, back, abdomen, and it’s wrapped around my bicep right now. (The only drawback is it’s made of white polyester: tidy types probably want to stitch together a sleeve to cover it and launder.

    Aveeno Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizing Body Wash is sold at the supermarket, doesn’t make my twitchy skin break out, is low-enough scent for me to tolerate, and is gooey enough I rarely need any lotion/salve.

  7. You like moist heating pads? They make electric moist pads, brand name Thermophore. They are pricey, though. But I quite like mine: it has a thumb switch so that if you happen to drift off while wearing it, your thumb slips off and it turns off. I do have a hair band with grippers around it (to keep it on without holding it), tho, cause I more often use it sitting at my computer than anywhere else. But unlike the microwavable ones, it doesn’t lose heat after five minutes (or thirty, for dry heat gel packs) so you don’t have to make another trip to the microwave constantly (exactly when you probably least feel like moving). You’re just tethered to an outlet instead 🙂

  8. Also, I keep baby wipes in the bathroom at all times. There are some times where toilet paper, no matter how soft and plush, is still just outright painful. And also useful for any sort of general minor body cleanup, including between-shower days when you just need a “bird bath.” And, um, needless to say, if you get a period, unless you’re a person who can use tampons the whole time and never leaks, they’re awfully nice to have around.

  9. Earplugs. One set in the bedroom, the other in my bag. If advertisement is allowed, I like the ones HEMA (store chain) sells here, the conical-shaped ones, one for almost 0 sound and one just to dim noise. They actually don’t hurt my ears after an hour or 2. I haven’t tried their earplugs for flying or swimming.

    I can’t stand any kind of cream or whatever on my skin (also almost everything gives me itchy rash), even chapstick (right?) on my lips is unpleasant, but I do that because I always pick at my lips. It’s a ‘stim’ I guess, I just like doing it but I’m trying to find another replacement because I don’t even know what ‘regular’ lips feel like anymore, they’ve been pretty much one big scab for years now (this replaced biting the inside of my mouth all to heck, which replaced scratching my skin on my hands and arms), so chapstick both helps me not touch them and make them feel semi-ok.
    Anyway, chapstick.

    Shampoo + conditioner that don’t give me rashes. Right now I don’t have any :S.
    I stay away from the stuff that smells because I don’t like most of the smells and they always smell so strong, but even if I do like it, it’s usually one of the indicators of itchy rash. Also any kind of nice-sounding special ingredients.
    Used to use baby shampoo but they added some sort of oil to that too some 10 years ago or so. I wonder how the babies live with it, they’re supposed to be sensitive to that stuff too right? Which is why the shampoo *was* made without all the natural oils/extracts stuff?

    Just ordinary soap and water. As I said, can’t stand stuff on my skin, especially hands, and that is not limited to creams and salves and such. So I wash my hands about a hundred times while cooking, and pretty often during most other activities (not always with soap though), sometimes even the minimal buildup of sweat or whatever during a bit of time needs to go.

    That portable stuff that cleans your hands for when we’re doing daytrips and there are no bathrooms or going in (even just for washing hands) one panics me out more than, for example, going to pee in the bushes (which I loathe, for clarity: fears; insects, ticks; balance problems, which reminds me, I need to find one of those tubes that lets women pee standing up easily), because the toilets are that dirty or smell like crap (literally :D) too strongly. Also water in a bottle.

  10. Amandaw – being tethered to an outlet isn’t too bad – I don’t want to move if my abdomen is a-achin’. I love this one we had at home, a plug-in one (not moist). I’d put a blanket on my body, or at least a towel – anything between skin and heating pad, and then for extra warmth, a thick blanket on top.

    And then I’d throw them all off in a fit because I’m overheated in beyond short shorts and a thin tank top. Bah. 😛

  11. Menstrual cups and cloth menstrual pads. (Thank you, menorrhagia.) Of all the menstrual products I’ve tried, my cup holds about twice as much as the product with the next highest capacity. Backed up with two cloth pads (which are fun! because they have exciting prints and pictures! which keeps me from hating my period), I can go for an hour between bathroom breaks. This makes me happy because the bathrooms at school? Not so clean. Also, since both are reusable, they’re saving me lots of money in the long run.

  12. As far as heating pads go, I adore the ones I’ve found that come with an elastic strap. I can strap ’em where I need ’em, and after warming in the microwave they last for about 45 min. I do frequently need something stronger, but this way I can move about my house and do what I need to do all while heating my acheyness. When I need to be out and about, I can use the thermacare temporary heating packs, but they’re just not the same – I find that they roll and bunch after awhile, especially the knee kind, and they don’t have anything that really takes care of my hips. Another product that has greatly increased my comfort is biofreeze. I know many people who don’t find that topical creams/lotions do much for them (for joint/muscle/skeletal pain), and I was the same way until I found biofreeze. It’s just enough to numb me through the walk to school and first hour or so of lectures. Another thing I can’t live without, especially if I’m going to be sitting for awhile, is my waffle cushion. It’s discreet enough that I can sort of fold it up and whip it out of my backpack when needed and it makes sitting for so long a little more bearable.

    As far as lotions go, I’m sure you all know what works for you and I don’t have especially sensitive skin but GOSH do I get itchy, and I just love the cetaphil cream that comes in a big tub.

  13. Menstrual cup, which I only have to change 2/day (3x/day the first day). Less hassle for my achey hands to deal with, vs. opening all those tampon wrappers. I have less cramping too.

    Thermacare heating pads.. I prefer the “menstrual relief” ones, because I can attach them to my clothes and not to my skin. I’ve used that style of my shoulder area, hip, back. If I put one on right before bed, I can often get a good 12 hrs of heat out of them (they rely on oxygen for the chemical reaction, and wearing it under pajamas, under blankets, without a lot of moving aroud, slows the reaction).

    Earplugs. Can’t sleep without them…I too prefer the tapered closed cell foam ones… cheap yet work wonders.

  14. Cloth pads are a must for me, long with lotion. If I can manage to make my skin look nice that day, at least I feel like I accomplished something.

    I use cloth pads becuase regular products sometimes bother me to the point I can’t concentrate, which is not helpful.

  15. Moisturisers! Argh, the commercial ones with their revolting fragrances and alcohols and who knows what else… I’ve finally come to a body butter formula that really works on my skin. It only contains mango butter, jojoba, lanolin (ultrapurified), sometimes a little olive oil, and a tablespoon of corn cornstarch. I usually add one drop of lavender essential oil per tub.

    Ditto my own soap – I’ve only found one or two bought brands (also high in olive oil) that my skin likes, and it’d be a bit too expensive to buy those anyhow; so a couple or three times a year, with help, I make up a big batch of soap.

    _Word_ to Tori menstrual pads: bamboo velour is what works with my body, so much nicer than any other fabric or disposable product.

    Heating pads: my favourite is a quite big wheat bag that a friend made for me. Little pads lose their heat so quickly. In the winter, I tuck an electric heating pad down at the end of my bed. It keeps the quilt from pressing on my feet (is anyone else sensitive to that?), and warms my feet just enough to stop me needing a full electric blanket or room heater. (It doesn’t freeze here.)

  16. I’m a fan of the silicone-type earplugs, the squishable ones that are essentially a big ball of antibacterial playdough that you can smoosh into your ears. I can’t remember the brand name, but I bought them at Rite Aid for something like $4.00 (USD) for three sets in a little plastic carrying case. The carrying case is key for when there’s a migraine trigger out and about.

    The only downside I’ve found so far is that after about four hours of wearing them, my ears feel faintly not good because the earplugs stay in by a combination of stickiness and suction. And the suction hurts. But four hours is MUCH better than the thirty minutes to a half hour that I got with my last earplugs.

  17. I don’t know if this counts, but I only use Arm n Hammer dye-free, perfume-free detergent. It’s the only detergent I’ve found that doesn’t make me sick. Nothing like when the smell of your clothes triggers a migraine or makes you break out in a rash.

    Also, maternity-length pads. I have endo/adenomyosis, so I typically need tampons and “backup”. Maternity-length pads cover everything.

    I also use Head-on. I only use it when I have a migraine and have already popped a Relpax and am trying to make myself fall asleep. It doesn’t cure migraines, but the weird burning sensation is a good distraction from the pain for me.

  18. All these comments about pads/cups/period maintenance makes me so happy I don’t have to do that. (Though I think the current hormone is affecting me in some weird ways – acne on my chest?)

    In addition to the pain of a period (I think of it as rusty old pipes being forced into work and banging around causing pain), dealing with pads is a pain because of the site of the pain.

  19. I so wish I had known about cloth pads earlier. They are the only kind of pad that deal with my heavy clots properly – as a teenager I was using two super tampons, two night pads and a pair of plastic pants all at the same time just to cope with the 90 minutes on the bus to school when I couldn’t go to the toilet. But one cloth pad works beautifully.

    Apart from that, the thing that has made the most difference to my self-care is shower rails. I couldn’t rinse shampoo or conditioner from my hair properly because of the head positions needed but if I can hold onto a rail, I’m fine at least 5 days out of 7.

  20. Ooh, forgot about my trusty menstrual cup, newly discovered. Again sensory issues: cloth pads are right out, just can’t deal with the feel of them. Tampons were better but even on the pill I’m still a heavy bleeder (I had way too much pain, way too much blood, way too long a period of bleeding, and way too short a cycle before that. I was fainting a lot just from losing too much blood every 2 to 2.5 weeks), and, well…. they also come right back out, full or not, at so much as a couch or a sneeze for me. Sometimes at rocket-speeds :S.
    Menstrual cup stays put better, though still not as much as it should, but still, it’ll do for the night or for going out of the house. It sort of comes out partway and then hangs there… Still it’s the thing I’ve been able to feel the least of all of them. Also I can keep it in for a full day if I like, in the light days, if I…. shove it back in every now and then.

  21. I use plain coconut oil (it is actually a solid at room temperature) instead of lotions. It does smell rather like a coconut, but is texture and effectiveness-wise by far the best thing I’ve tried for dry skin, itch, or acne.

  22. I use heating pads pretty often, and I also use a perfume oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab called Embalming Fluid (don’t worry, it just smells like oranges) to help quell queasiness and exhaustion.

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