View Full Version : Chronic illness and long hair

March 12th, 2013, 09:52 AM
Sorry if this ends up long but suggestions would really be appreciated.

I suffer from fibromyalgia, the main symptoms of which are chronic pain and chronic fatigue. I've considered cutting my hair a bunch of times in the past 2/3 years because I'm often lacking the energy to do anything with it and sometimes can't move my arm properly to brush it. So far I've persevered because being ill has cost me a lot of myself and I don't want to throw away years of trying to grow out my hair just because I'm tired and things hurt.

Anyway, I've noticed that a number of women (I think the majority) who suffer from fibro have short hair and many of them specifically say they're going to get their hair cut short not so much because they want short hair but because they don't have the energy to do anything with it. The other day I was part of a conversation with a woman who was telling others that since getting ill she hasn't felt physically attractive and a large part of it was feeling that she couldn't wear her hair long. She said she could only wear it 'in a boring bun'.

Sudden realization in my very slow brain: lots of women with chronic illnesses can't enjoy their hair and that can't be necessary.

So what I'm after is any suggestions for being able to maintain/style/enjoy hair when you're feeling tired or ill. Quick styles, tricks for quickly making your hair look neat, hair toys which you think are the easiest to use. Anything is welcome.
I'm ultimately hoping to be able to write something/set up a blog advising helping chronic women enjoy their appearance without putting themselves out.

March 12th, 2013, 09:59 AM
I have someone (my mom) do my hair for me, so that's probably the easiest solution, have someone help you with your hair. Second of all, short hair requires more work. You have to wash it more, because short hair gets oilier faster (because of the length). You have to style it into place every time. Long hair you just have to put up. That's it.

March 12th, 2013, 10:44 AM
I just cut my hair back about 7" from term to remove damage. I discovered that stretching washes and oiling my scalp and ends make hair care much easier. So does using a wide-toothed comb instead of a BBB. For me, it is still possible to care for my own long hair.

March 12th, 2013, 10:57 AM
I've got carpel tunnel syndrome that I am waiting for treatment for, so I have trouble holding my arms up for very long to do my hair at the moment, I end up aching and light headed.

The best methods I have found so far is to try and do things in small stages and do them when it doesn't matter that I am wasting time. Like I will try to detangle my hair when I am reading online or watching tv. I'll try and detangle it with my fingers first, then when I try to hold up an object like a comb or a brush there is minimal work to do with the extra weight.

If I am trying to braid my hair, I will have clips at the ready. Each time I move a section, I'll put a clip on the end. That way if I have to drop the section, it won't merge back in with the others an I can find it again quickly. I might do say 3 or 4 cross overs of the sections, stop, have a rest and catch my breath and start again. Either that or I will grab sections in my mouth instead of using clips.

If I don't have time, I will try to stick it in a lazy wrap bun or a bun with a spin pin. I can BBB the top so it looks quite tidy, without going through the whole length. I am sure it's better to get all the tangles out first, but sometime this just isn't possible.

Hope this helps in some way, looking forward to seeing what other responses you get :)

March 12th, 2013, 11:15 AM
I do not have this problem at present but did briefly in the past (bad medicine reaction that went on for weeks, gah, every muscle and joint hurt and working with a brush or comb was really painful.). Y'all have my complete sympathy!

One thing is to have more fun hairtoys, pretty ones, so the "boring bun" can look different. That does not necessarily mean frightfully expensive. The boring bun (which should be easy to create) can be placed on top, side, back, high, low - for variety.

Another thing is to keep the hair confined so the tangles are few(er). Make some effort to detangle regularly so the job is not a nightmare when you finally get to it.

Stretch out the washes, as best you can. If you always wear an updo the hair can go much longer without a wash. A *topknot* under a showercap can allow you to rinse the scalp nicely without soaking all the length (use a plastic hairpin to hold the knot, for there will be dampness).

At the first sign of end-tangles, a tiny trim might be in order.

Doing a little bit at a time, working while reading or watching TV are excellent suggestions, cathair!

March 12th, 2013, 11:25 AM
Thank you. I'm very happy with having responses already :) I better grab a notepad so I can start making a quick reference list for myself.

I do get my boyfriend to help me with brushing my hair quite often but I know that isn't an option for everyone (and isn't an option all the time).

Lapushka, your comments about short hair maintenance are basically my mantra for not caving and cutting my hair. I just keep telling myself it won't be as easy to care for as people think and I'll probably look like a lion or sonic or something :lol:

I'll definitely be advising spin pins, they're an absolute wonder for me.

Cathair, the clips is a wonderful idea. I usually hold some hair in my mouth whilst braiding and on bad days I still usually end up dropping it.

Embee, topknot under a shower cap is definitely something I'll be trying out. I'm also planning to start looking out for as many things as I can to accessorize a 'boring bun' with.

March 12th, 2013, 11:48 AM
Hey there, I too have fibromyalgia! Its a pain ins't it ;)

I have similar symptoms. Pain and lack of energy.

On the subject of washing: How I manage my hair (almost waist length, thick and relatively heavy), mainly is stretching washes. For me the most exhausting and painful part is when I have stand for 30-40 minutes in the shower while having my hair be so heavy with water, whats helped me with that is I simply don't wash my hair more thank once a week unless I have a special occasion, or obligation that requires me to have pristine hair.

On the subject of brushing: I finger detangle in the shower while soaked with conditioner, so I rarely brush my hair (unless its been down in the wind), most of the time its twisted up in a bun so its got no opportunity to tangle. I do brush to remove shed hairs before I shower though.

On the subject of dealing with scalp and neck pain: I find that I enjoy topknots, or 8 buns of medium height secured with clips. As far as securing goes: spin pins, giant octopus clips, short two prong forks, and cinabuns secured with the tail and base in a round banana clip.

On the subject of being to exhausted to deal with long hair: having many securing options and styles available is really nice, because sometime my hands and back wont cooperate with one bun or another do to muscle fatigue or stiffness, so have many easy options so you can just put it up and collapse on something :)

On the subject of energy in general: The best trick I have found for this is exercise. Yes it is hard. Yes I would be lying if I didn't say I don't come home sometimes from a work out and cry like a baby, but the important thing is even though it is painful. I have energy for the first time in years. Enough energy to do my school work, my volunteer work, and sometimes even house work. And the more you exercise the less painful it gets. It you just don't quit, and keep doing it, I swear you will see a difference. My overall energy has gone up 100% and overall pain has decreased by 50% since I started working out for 3 months steady. So just thought I'd share. If your in such bad shape you can barely move (i was there too), I recommend getting prescribed hot water physical therapy sessions, or you can try acupuncture (really helped me and I didn't think it would work).

Best wishes to you. I've been tempted to hack my hair off before with the challenges my fibromyalgia has given me, but I've found some ways to make it easier. Good luck to you, in health and in life! :)

March 12th, 2013, 12:06 PM
Woo solidarity.
Your post makes me think I'm the wrong person to be writing about fibro and hair care :run: Thank you so much, it will definitely be useful.
I'll admit lately I've taken to sitting down in the shower quite often but I think that temporary pregnancy induced extra laziness. I make up for it by walking to the local library and things like that.

March 12th, 2013, 12:18 PM
I have Chronic Fatigue too. At the moment my hair is just creeping to shoulder, so I don't have any problems with it being heavy or taking a long time to wash; however, despite its shortness I still find washing it very tiring.

One good thing I have found is a combined shampoo and conditioner, which means it takes half the time in the shower. Braiding it is always fun, I had a day at home today and have it in four plaits in the hope it will be nice and wavy! And even if it isn't my Mum and I tend to have a good laugh at the frizziness that results :D

Edit: Just realised we are the same age :)

March 12th, 2013, 12:29 PM
My Mom suffers from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and the list goes on. I wash and blowdry her hair every single day, but I have to be super gentle. Its such a gift to be able to help her in this way. She too had long hair for a while, but she got to a point where she was getting too many headaches with it up - so I trimmed it into a classic bob. If she didn`t have this help she would not be able to do her hair at all. I pray every single day that they find a cure for this dreaded disease so I don`t have to watch her suffer like this. I second the notion of getting beautiful accessories to put in your hair to jazz up your buns and braids. Even the milkmaid braids look super cute and they are so easy to do. Parandas also look beautiful if you use some sparkly threads. Check out Lilith Moons Youtube video on ways to where headscarves as well for those days when you`re not up to washing.

March 12th, 2013, 02:26 PM
Same age, same country.

I once spent 4 days or so with my hair in a pair of plaits, washing it and everything. It was so nice not having to worry about it and when I finally untied it it look fabulously wavy.

CJC, your mum is very lucky to have you helping her out like that. I'm sure that a lot of people would feel less depressed with chronic illnesses if they could at least look in the mirror and be happy with how they look.

March 12th, 2013, 03:19 PM
I've never suffered from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, but I used to be pretty sick and washing/brushing/styling my hair wasn't always something I wanted to deal with. I pretty much lived in braids: one or two English braids were easy enough to manage, and I could leave them in for days.