I hate showering.
Well, not really the shower itself. That part is rather pleasant. And I don’t particularly like being sweaty or dirty, so I like that I wind up clean. I even like that it’s an efficient way to warm up or cool down if I need to. What I don’t like is that I also get itchy.
I finally decided that I wanted to (again) figure out what was going on and find a way to fix it. I’ve tried a number of things already, all of them assuming that the itchiness was caused by dry skin. I use very good soaps, I moisturize, I use soft washcloths, etc. All that might help a little bit, but ultimately the problem remains. Besides, when I think about it the problem is not dry skin. Dry skin itchies have a specific feel. Post-shower itchies have more of a crawling-beneath-my-skin feel.
So I started paying attention more. As far as I can tell, it’s linked to scrubbing actions – scrubbing myself when I wash, and then scrubbing myself again when I dry. My new best guess is that showering makes my nervous system go hyperactive, which means the best solution is to find some way to calm it down.
Then I remembered something I had read a while back. Someone had written about wanting long hair, but having problems because long hair triggered sensory problems. Someone else had suggested hair brushing as a solution. Specifically, really firm brushing that scraped at the scalp. I didn’t pay much attention because I already comb my hair that way, and my long hair doesn’t bother me. But then I thought – maybe combing my skin could help the itchies!
So I tried it.
It still isn’t a perfect solution, but it makes things so very much better. I started with the same comb I use on my hair – just drawing it down my arms and legs in a smooth, even motion. A few minutes of that fixed my arms entirely. My legs are more challenging – once I stopped combing the itchies came back within a few minutes. However, even that few minutes reprieve tells me that I am probably on to something. I invested in a boar’s bristle brush to see if that would work better, but I honestly think my comb is working best so far. It’s also better if I start before the itchies get a chance to really build up – an ounce of prevention and all that.
All of which means I am definitely in favor of brushing or combing skin as one method to deal with sensory issues in the skin. It seems to be working pretty well for me.