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Look Your Best With MS: Grooming Tips for Men and Women























The right equipment and a simplified look can make grooming easier when you have MS.Josef Lindau/Getty Images; Stocksy

Weakness, fatigue, and tremors can get in the way of maintaining your appearance, but these tips and techniques will help keep you looking good.

Kathleen Matuska, PhD, an occupational therapist and chair of the department of occupational science and occupational therapy at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, once worked with a patient with MS who almost quit a job that she valued and enjoyed. The reason: The woman found her morning grooming routine so exhausting that she felt wiped out by the time she got into her car to drive to work.

Fortunately, that woman belonged to a support group led by Dr. Matuska. The group brought a problem-solving approach to the woman’s situation, and its members helped her figure out some simple adjustments to her morning routine that made it less tiring, so she could continue working.

“It didn’t occur to her to handle her grooming routine differently,” Matuska says, “Just taking her shower in the evening instead of in the morning and simplifying her hairstyle made a huge difference. A few little changes in her routine made things so much better for her.”

Caroline Craven, who blogs at Girl With MS, says that keeping things simple is her mantra. For example, she uses little makeup, because using a lot is too hard. Craven recalls poking herself in the eye with her mascara wand because of spasms.

If Craven goes for a pedicure, she tells the nail technician, “I’m sorry if I kick you in the face, but I may.” They laugh about it, she says.

Still, basic good grooming does matter. Psychologists agree that people who feel good about their appearance are more likely to feel confident and good about themselves.

At work, your appearance can send cues about your standards, your carefulness, and even your level of respect for others, all of which can influence how you perform.

Common MS Symptoms That Complicate Grooming

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis affect different individuals in varying ways and to varying degrees. Here are some aspects of MS that can complicate grooming, along with practical approaches that both men and women can use to handle personal upkeep with greater ease:

Weakness This can make it hard for people with MS to grasp grooming tools for the amount of time needed to complete the task. Holding a hair dryer over your head for long enough to dry your hair, for instance, can be tiring.

Hand Tremors Shakiness can interfere with any task that requires hand control, such as applying makeup or shaving.

Visual Impairments Trouble with vision naturally complicates grooming.

Fatigue This poses major challenges related to grooming for most people with MS, says Matuska. Any grooming task can feel overwhelming if you’re exhausted.

Depression While it's often hard to distinguish from fatigue, Matuska says, depression can lead to a lack of concern with appearance.

In fact, both depression and fatigue influence a person's desire to groom, Matuska says. “Often a person doesn’t have one or the other, but both. And sometimes depression medication helps fatigue, and fatigue medication helps depression.” Still, she says it's best to know whether it’s MS-related fatigue or depression being treated. A neurologist or mental health professional should be able to provide a proper diagnosis.

MS Grooming Work-Arounds

The following approaches can help to make personal grooming tasks easier. They reflect what Matuska calls “basic principles of occupational therapy.” When faced with a practical challenge, one must adapt and simplify:

  1. Spread grooming tasks out throughout the day or the week. As the woman in the support group did, try showering at night rather than in the morning. Shower or shampoo your hair every two or three days instead of daily. Perform tasks such as tweezing your eyebrows or trimming your nails on the weekend rather than during the week, particularly if you work or have other scheduled activities during the week.
  2. Reduce the amount of energy required for grooming tasks. For instance, sit down instead of standing up while shaving, applying moisturizer, or putting on makeup.
  3. Consider simplifying your look. Some women find short hair easier to handle. If you use makeup, experiment with different options. Maybe lipstick and blush is enough makeup for you.
  4. Use equipment that requires less effort. Use an electric razor, for instance, rather than a manual one.
  5. Adjust your posture or grip. To address tremors, try resting your elbows on a table and putting two hands on the shaver or other tool.
  6. Employ adaptive equipment. Grooming tools with wider handles, special devices to make nail trimming and shaving easier and safer, and other tools designed for easy handling can be more comfortable to use than regular items. These tools are sold at many drugstores and medical supply stores, as well as online.
  7. Set realistic expectations for yourself. For instance, flossing the usual way may be too difficult. “Use a toothpick to clean around the edges of each tooth, and then use a fluoride rinse instead,” says Matuska. Or ask your dentist about flossing tools that can make the job easier.

For special occasions, Craven suggested finding help. “My fatigue makes it really hard to blow-dry my hair,” she says, “If I have a big event, I have someone else do my hair and my makeup.”

Also, think about what really matters to you as you make decisions about your appearance, advises Matuska. “Decide what is most important to you and do that. The things that aren’t important to you, think about changing.”


Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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