Fibromyalgia and Skin Problems: Clothing that Causes Itching

“I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch”, Gilda Radner

There isn’t anything more comforting to me than cloth that is soft and soothing. Mostly, it is cotton that gives me a feeling of being in a cocoon. Since the most popular blog on this busy website is about itching it has brought to mind the ways in which we can reduce the itching and scratching (the “Itchy & Scratchy Show” from the Simpsons is brought to mind) of fabric that does not bring comfort.

As an effort to “change my brain” regarding pain, I followed the advice of experts many years ago and took on a project which was creative and new to me. In addition it is somewhat repetitive, also part of the triad of characteristics that make up this endeavor. Quilting was my choice of a new project/hobby. Never a sewer it was indeed a steep learning curve but it brought me into the realm of fabrics.

I found myself in shops that were new to me as I walked among the bolts of material that were either comforting or irritating to the touch. It was then that I finally understood why I have never been a fashion queen. I am only at ease in soft, cotton fabrics, otherwise my body is ‘itchy and scratchy’. Rashes, tingling , burning will develop if the clothing I wear is not soothing to touch.

When my oldest son was a toddler he would take a piece of new clothing and rub it against his face and if he did not like the feel of it he would say it was ‘picky’ and would not wear it. It seems as though this is hereditary but maybe not! Raised in the 1970s he and his two brothers were a product of those terrible acrylic, flashy and scratchy clothes for boys. Nylon, rayon and other non-natural fabrics were the bane of their existence.

Raised in the 1950s myself I remember the unpleasant sensations of the crinoline skirts, tight waistbands, itchy dresses and uncomfortable high heeled shoes. I would itch after wearing a crinoline and anything tight, in particular nylon stockings and later panty-hose. High heeled shoes were another pain evoking dilemma for me.

Currently I am embarking on making a quilt for a friend from African fabric which has been in her home for many years from her working days in Africa. The dyed (done by hand) material is soft and enticing. I could imagine the lovely draping and amazing feel of the soft fabric on my skin.

I am certain that all the itching and subsequent skin problems that we ‘fibromyalgia persons’, (mainly women) experience is no doubt exacerbated by  irritating fabric against the skin, make-up that is poisonous and shoes that affect our feet in later life. Is it little wonder that more women than men experience itching and scratching until the skin erupts? Added to which is the pressure women are under to dress fashionably which usually means uncomfortably.

The fashion industry is the second greatest polluter of the environment after oil. Not only is it responsible for pollution of the earth but it also pollutes our sensitive bodies. Do try a day without makeup and nail polish (poisonous substances have been found in nail polish that can affect the endocrine system and potentially the reproductive system, The research in this area is on-going). Spend a week in soft, loose,non-irritating clothing, avoid chemicals in the form of hair dyes and makeup, give up the heeled shoes and note for yourself if it helps with the itching and rashes. Above all it is our central nervous system that will enjoy the vacation from what is considered fashionable ( note:uncomfortable). It is primarily men who determine women’s fashion although as it is often said: women dress for other women, not for men! This could be more complex in the area of trans- gender and fluid orientations nonetheless, for all humans comfort is paramount. We can all redefine what is fashionable and how we present ourselves to the world if we demand clothing that is healthy for our bodies and not made from toxic fabric.

Taking care of our skin, the largest organ of the body will reduce the amount of itching and rashes we experience as persons with fibromyalgia – the dis-ease of the central nervous system.



2 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and Skin Problems: Clothing that Causes Itching

  1. Kathy

    Dr. Keddy, hello. I’m reading your book, and I have a question. My Fibromyalgia symptoms began the night I had my H1N1 shot in November 2009. I cried in pain all night. I was diagnosed six months later, and went on Disability in February 2010. In all of your studies, have you ever seen a possible correlation between that shot and Fibromyalgia?

  2. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Kathy: I don’t know for certain if the vaccines we receive as adults result in a reaction. I personally don’t receive any because I do have reactions to anything new and my body reacts badly. That isn’t to say that all of us with fibromyalgia are subject to symptoms developing after flu shots.But, as to causing fibromyalgia I seriously doubt that this vaccine or any other causes fibro. This condition of ours develops over time, begins in childhood in highly sensitive, anxious persons and is a central nervous system over-stimulation. Vaccines of any kind do not cause fibromyalgia. The best thing for you at this point is to have Trauma Therapy (talk therapy)to determine the root cause so that you can feel comfortable about the flare-ups and avoid them as much as possible.
    Very best wishes,

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