When you suffer from fatigue and swollen, stiff and painful joints, you won’t be able to zip through daily routines such as taking a shower or styling your hair. Instead, they take planning — and a bit of support. Use these tips to make bathing and grooming when you have arthritis a lot easier.

Bathing Basics

  • First, give yourself extra time whenever you are getting ready. Stiff, swollen joints can prolong many tasks, including bathing.

  • A warm bath or shower can help to loosen up joints and improve mobility. So while you may think it’s better to do it at the time of day when you feel best, taking a bath when your symptoms are bad may actually help to relieve them.

  • If you’re feeling very fatigued, try waiting till you have a bit more energy so you’re less likely to have an accident in the tub.

  • Unless you’re planning to soak in the tub for arthritis relief, make bath time short and sweet as much as possible.

  • Make sure you have everything you’ll need handy in the bathroom, so you won’t have to make trips to the linen closet or elsewhere.

  • Sometimes arthritis makes it difficult to get in and out of the bath or shower. Use a transfer board or bench. Or, install grab or grip bars to hold on to when you’re entering or leaving the shower, and to support you while you’re in the tub.

  • Install a non-slip shower or bathtub mat to avoid slips and falls.

  • Keep toiletries in a caddy over the shower head (if you stand) or in a corner caddy at the front of the tub (if you sit) so that everything you need is in front of you.

  • Arthritis can make standing for any length of time difficult. Keep a bath chair in your shower or tub so you can sit. Sitting also reduces the likelihood that you’ll slip or fall.

  • Install an extendable or long-handle shower head or body washer so you don’t have to reach too far or twist too much. Body washers can make scrubbing your back, shoulders, legs and feet much easier.

  • Avoid or limit oils in your bath; these can make the tub slippery and increase your risk of an accident.

  • When you’re finished bathing don a terrycloth robe to dry your body. Using a towel involves a lot of twisting and turning; use it to dry your feet only.

Grooming Guidelines

  • Keep all your grooming products in one area in your bedroom or bathroom so you won’t need to move about as much. Also, keep your routine as simple as possible.

  • Sit down whenever you can, including when you’re doing your hair, brushing your teeth, shaving, moisturizing your body or putting on makeup.

  • Wash your face and hair in the shower to avoid bending over a sink.

  • To wash your hair, use a shampoo-conditioner combo so you have only one product to apply.

  • Use a mechanical toothbrush to avoid twisting your wrists in awkward angles. They also have thicker handles that make it easier for arthritic fingers to grip.

  • Consider using depilatory creams instead of razors to shave your legs and under your arms. They’re less labor-intensive than shaving, and less messy and unreliable than at-home waxing can be sometimes.

  • Use hair combs and brushes made for people with arthritis; their ergonomic designs relieve stress on your fingers and wrists.

  • Give your shoulders, arms and hands a break and let your hair dry naturally instead of using a blow dryer.
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  • Go for low-maintenance hairdos. Plus, use detangling conditioners, moisturizers, brushes and combs to make styling your hair easier and quicker.

  • Use a foundation-and-powder combination so you only have one product to apply instead of two. Always select easy-does-it makeup if you have arthritis that affects your hands. For instance, lipsticks are easier to apply than glosses with fine brushes.

  • Accept help. If your spouse, partner, or kids want to take turns helping you brush your hair, moisturize your back or paint your nails, let them.