Chronic pain sucks. We all know this. Chronic nerve pain disorders like fibromyalgia, nerve damage, severe migraines, and various forms of neuropathy can cause hypersensitivity. This hypersensitivity can affect many things in daily life, including bathing. I can’t even have a proper shower because I have to stand outside of the spray—it just hurts so badly to have water rain down on my skin. I had thought soaking in a tub was very painful as well, because the sides of the tub touch your skin. Well, guys and gals, I found the secret to having a bath when you have chronic pain and hypersensitivities. Listen up!
The #1 most important tool in your arsenal: Salts
Sea salts and Epsom Salts, to be specific. If you don’t have sea salts, table salt is just fine. “Why do I need salts?” The goal is to make you float, so you need a lot of it. You need to float as much as possible to avoid touching the tub and causing yourself more pain. You won’t float 100%, but you will mostly float. It avoids putting much pressure on your back, arms, and legs. My butt touches the tub a little bit, but its not too much pressure to be uncomfortable. Epsom salts will help detoxify your body quicker (toxins in muscles can cause more pain in the future) and will relieve minor aches and pains for a while. Personally, I feel that the magnesium helps my arthritis if I take 2-3 detox baths a week.
#2: Herbs + Essential Oils
Calming, detoxifying, and pain-relieving herbs are what you aim for when choosing additives for your bath. Lavender is probably the most popular floral for baths. Chamomile, Calendula,, Sage, Rose, Mints, and Rosemary are also very popular. There are so many herbs out there to choose from. Skullcap, wormwood, passion flower, blue vervain, and california poppy are great ones to combine with whatever floral or citrus scent you prefer.
For essential oils, Lavender, Peppermint, Patchouli, Rosemary, Lemon, Grapefruit, Fennel, and Oregano are the most popular for detoxing. Choose whatever pleases your senses. If you have a sensitivity to scents, you might want to skip essential oils entirely.
#3: Melt, Don’t Fizz!
When it comes to bath bombs, there are things that sensitive people and Fibromyalgia patients generally want to avoid. The first things to avoid is artificial fragrances, colorants, and harsh chemicals. They are cool to look at, but the majority of storebought bath bombs contain these nasty things. An average person may not notice them, but someone with an auto-immune disorder or nerve pain definitely would. The bath fizzies were my worst nightmare, since I can’t tolerate any kind of texture like that. Look for ones that contain naturally-derived colors (unless you prefer uncolored), no baking soda or citric acid (these can dry out your skin or cause a rash), and essential oils as their fragrance. If they smell strongly in the store, don’t take them home.
Bath melts are generally your best option. Bath melts are oils and butters that are solid at room temperature, but slowly melt in a bath. These moisturize your skin very well and make one less step for you as you prepare for bed (that is, if you are like me and apply lotion before bed). Soaking in a tub full of these melted oils and butters is a spa-like experience. When you get out of the tub, simply massage the oils into your skin until they absorb and voila! You just made life a little easier on yourself.
#4: Powdered Ingredients + Apple Cider Vinagar
Powdered coconut milk or goats milk is easy to blend into your salts and store next to the tub. Apple cider vinegar powder, milk of magnesia powder, and other powdered materials are also easy to blend into your salts. If there’s a possibility of soap touching my intimate area, I am sure to add some Apple Cider Vinegar to my bath to balance the pH of the water.
Step by Step of My Bath Preparations:
Step 1: Add 1 Cup of Epsom Salts and 1 Cup of Sea salt (or table salt)
Step 2: Run the water and get it to the desired temperature. Dissolve your salts with your hands by stirring the water around them. Don’t get in until they are dissolved.
Step 3: If you aren’t clean, get clean. Then run the water out and start over.
Step 4: Add your herbs, essential oils, and whatever else you like. If you have loose herbs, put them in a mess or cotton drawstring bag to save on cleaning up the tub later.
Step 5: Drop the bath melt towards the tub faucet and run some hot water over it (unless your tub is already hot). The importance of bathing and shaving in separate water is because the oils and butters will cling to dirt and hair and stick to you if you don’t. Gross, right? Also, be sure to be aware that these may make your tub slippery, so remind yourself to wipe it down before the next time you are about to use it and also be careful when getting in and out of the tub.
Step 6: Put on a tv or read a book. Have a leak-proof cup of iced water handy (you don’t want bath water splashing in) to keep you hydrated. You’re going to be soaking for an hour at least. I usually take my laptop into the bathroom and put a relaxing movie on (not the Fast and the Furious, I said “relaxing”. Think Jane Austen).
Step 7: Just breathe. If you start to feel nauseous or overheated, just let some cold water into the tub, sip on your water, and get out if you need to. Sometimes I like the bath water to be the temperature of a warm pool. Try to stay for at least an hour. Take snacks or meds into the bathroom with you beforehand.
Hope this helps you find some relief from everyday pains!
The Mad Soap Artist,
Alicia Bella Joubert