Six Tips for Showering During a Migraine Attack

Last updated: September 2022

During prodrome and the pain phase of a migraine, I avoid showering because it wears me out and ratchets up the pain. Combine a couple (or more) days of not showering with the migraine symptom of night sweats, and I feel disgusting. Luckily, my plentiful experience, which has left me collapsed on the shower floor innumerable times, has taught me some excellent strategies for getting clean when I've reached my limit of grime.

Make the water temperature "comfortable"

Only make the water as hot as you need to be comfortable. Too hot, and it will make your head pound (unless you're one of those lucky people whose migraines are relieved by hot water). Too cold and your muscles will tense up, potentially worsening the attack.

Take a Navy shower

Try a Navy shower. Turn the water off after you get wet, soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse off. Not ideal in the winter, but this works great in summer.

Reduce your use of soap

Spend less time under the water by using soap only on the stinky bits. Water is enough to clean all but your underarms, feet, and genitals. (Do a search for it if you don't believe me. Some people don't use soap at all.) An added bonus is that your skin won't be as dry if you don't soap it, so you might be able to skip the energy-intensive step of lotion.

Try a cool rinse

A cool rinse at the end of your shower can help revive you. Just not so cold that your muscles rebel.

Try a shallow bath

Skip the shower and clean up in a shallow bath. Again, you don't want the water too hot. The benefit of a bath is that you can sit down while cleaning yourself. If you're grossed out by the idea of not rinsing, just do a quick rinse under the shower when you're finished.

Use a chlorine filter

If you are sensitive to odors and your water source is chlorinated (most cities and towns chlorinate their water to some degree), get a chlorine filter for your shower head. They cost anywhere from $15 to $40 and you'll spend $10 to $15 on a replacement filer about once a year, depending on how frequently you use it. A chlorine filter will also make your skin less dry.

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