Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

When you have RA, day to days tasks become difficult if not impossible. Most of us try to find easier ways of doing things, even using aids to assist with what should be the simplest of tasks. Having RA and MCS can in some ways make finding these aids near impossible but I have found a few things that have made my days easier.

The biggest hurdle, at least for me, is personal grooming. Not only are most things difficult for me to manoeuvre with my creaky hands, most things are scented which can make bathing damn near impossible.

Thankfully, I have found a few things that have made my life easier. I found a great unscented, chemical-free shampoo and conditioner by Curelle that I purchase from These are salon quality products that have left my hair feeling super silky. And by putting pumps in the bottles instead of the regular squeeze cap, I can easily dispense the products.

Unfortunately the actual act of shampooing my hair is another issue. But carries this fantastic little gadget by Relaxus--a shampoo brush! It is easy to hold and it does the scrubbing of my scalp for me, saving my poor fingers.

Drying your hair is another sometimes painful task. I have found that rather than trying to manoeuvre both a hair dryer and a brush, a hot brush allows me to perform both tasks with ease. Usually styling products are a no-no for those with MCS but I have found a great unscented, all natural hair gel by Hairy Kids does a great job of styling my locks (they have fantastic shampoos, conditioners and body washes too!). For those days when hair spray is a must, Sun Coat Sugar-Based Natural Hair Spray is both scent and chemical free and holds your desired hairstyle but doesn't leave your hair frozen in place (à la 80's rock band).

Shaving is another task that has caused problems for I'm sure most with RA not to mention trying to find one that is MCS friendly. I use the Intuition Plus Razor for Sensitive Skin by Schick. It has a non-slip thick handle that makes it easy to use and the sensitive skin blades with built in shaving cream and moisturizer is fragrance free.

Some days, holding a loofah or a face cloth can also be a difficult task. In addition, stiff joints make it even more difficult to reach those hard to reach body parts. On these days, I have found that using a loofah/body puff back scrubber makes the job much easier. They even have a model for your face!

Finding a MCS friendly body wash that won't break the bank and that is relative easy to find in stores is difficult. There are few main stream products that I can use anymore and the fragrance free lines by Aveeno are one of them. I use Aveeno Fragrance Free Skin Relief Body Wash for my body and Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser for my face (it's also fragrance free).

Finding an anti-perspirant is perhaps the hardest thing if you have MCS. I tried close to 30 different ones before I found one that a) kept me odour free and b) didn't send me running for my inhaler or migraine meds. I use Almay's Fragrance Free Solid Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant. This product unfortunately isn't available in Canada but I usually purchase it from or or I stock up when we head across the border to upstate New York for some shopping.

RA hands also seem to have a hate-on for teeth brushing. For my pearly whites, I use a rechargeable toothbrush. Mine is an Oral-B Advanced Power but any battery operated toothbrush with a thick handle should do the trick. There are many affordable ones out there, such as the Crest Spin Brush and the Oral-B Vitality. For flossing, the Oral-B Hummingbird Electric Flosser can do all the work for you or for those who don't need as much help, the Reach Access Flosser is a great tool to have.

It is important to remember that everyone with MCS has different triggers and what I find is safe for me, may not be safe for you. Always do a sniff test in-store or if ordering online, see if the retailer will send you a sample.

For those with RA, sometimes the unorthodox way is the only way. Whether it be using a hair dryer instead of a towel to dry off after a shower or just using a hairbrush with a wider handle, whatever doesn't hurt your fragile joints is the way to go. Sure your spouse may laugh if s/he sees you performing whatever trick works for you but if it helps make your life a little easier go for it!

In the coming months, I will post my tips for day to day living RA style with a MCS twist. If you have tips of your own, email me at or comment below. I would be thrilled to add them to my posts and to try them out!