When you think of fibromyalgia symptoms, pain, fatigue, and low energy levels are some of the first issues that come to mind. But a secondary — and often overlooked — impact of fibromyalgia is how it can affect the way you look.
Pick the Right Footwear
Fibromyalgia is often linked with foot pain, tingling, numbness or a sensation of swollen feet, even when there’s no visible swelling. When you’re experiencing fibromyalgia pain in your feet, you might think you need to throw style out the window in favor of comfortable shoe choices that help you better cope with fibromyalgia. However, Dr. Geraci says you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice style for comfort, even when you’re trying to fend off fibromyalgia symptoms. “Shop for shoes that have a low heel and are a half-size larger,” he advises.
Make Conscious Clothing Choices
Loose and comfortable clothing make many people with fibromyalgia feel better — and you can still stay stylish. “For clothes, stay away from tight-fitting blouses and pants,” says Geraci. “Short sleeves are best, weather permitting.” If your fibromyalgia symptoms include skin sensitivity, he suggests also avoiding fabrics with many coarse fibers. And if you’re shivering in winter, try wearing more wool: A study published in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine found that wearing woolen underwear (as well as using woolen bedding) helped reduce pain and tenderness in patients with fibromyalgia.
Watch Your Weight
Gaining weight is not an inevitable side effect of fibromyalgia symptoms, but some drugs used to treat this chronic condition — like tricyclic antidepressants — are linked to weight gain. Geraci emphasizes taking charge of your health. “Have a dialogue with your doctor and choose medications that don’t cause weight gain,” he says. He also recommends consulting a naturopathic physician if you need help with a good weight-loss meal plan. Exercise has also been shown to ease fibromyalgia pain and stress, as well as assisting in weight loss. Want an easy way to get started? “Walk one mile each day,” says Geraci. “You get the same caloric burn as running one mile — it just takes a bit longer.”
Care for Your Skin
Fibromyalgia patients often have skin issues like rashes, sensitivity, and dryness. Although the reason isn’t fully understood, research suggests that some of the skin problems common with fibromyalgia, like allodynia (extreme sensitivity to touch) may be due to misdirected pain signals sent from the brain. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology also found a higher-than-usual number of mast cells (white blood cells that release itch-producing histamines) in the skin of fibromyalgia patients. Geraci says many of his patients with fibromyalgia have problems with dry skin. He advises using hypoallergenic creams and lotions to add back needed moisture while avoiding irritation.
Use Just a Touch of Makeup
When it comes to cosmetic use, a little can go a long way toward making you feel better — and minimizing the amount of makeup you use could also be a big help. A small study published in the Journal of Women’s Health suggested that using less makeup canreduce fibromyalgia symptoms like pain, sleep problems, and stiffness. The author theorized that common cosmetic ingredients like mineral oil may contribute to inflammation. Cutting back on cosmetics can also help if you have allodynia or sensitivity to fragrances, both of which are very common in people with fibromyalgia. “Use only hypoallergenic makeup, and minimize foundation if you use it at all,” suggests Geraci. “Apply just enough makeup to feel comfortable with your looks.”
Get Help for Thinning Hair
Hair loss is one of the common symptoms reported by people with fibromyalgia. And while the good news is that it’s temporary — experts say in most cases, the lost hair will grow back — there’s no doubt that thinning hair can be distressing.
“For hair loss I recommend regular sleep, meditation twice daily, and supplements with biotin, inositol, zinc, and magnesium,” Geraci says. “These are simple and holistic strategies.” Talk with your fibromyalgia doctor about the right dosages of medication for you. Also, because hair loss is also common with hypothyroidism (which can mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia), it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to rule out any thyroid issues.