By: Paige Wyant
Trying to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia isn’t easy any time of the year – but the summer can bring some unique challenges. Some of those with fibro may experience heat intolerance, photosensitivity, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), difficulty regulating temperature or even just an exacerbation of their fibro symptoms during the summer months. So how do you cope with the season when the increased heat and light can make you sick?
To help those with fibro who dread the long, hot summer months, we asked our Mighty fibromyalgia community which products they consider essential to keep on hand during the summer. These products help them stay cool, relieve pain and do their best to prevent heat/light-induced flare-ups.
Here are their recommendations.
1. Columbia Shirts
The women’s shirt above has a collar, long sleeves and Omni-Shade UPF 30 to protect against sun exposure while also being lightweight and built with venting and quick dry fabric to keep you cool and comfortable.
“An array of comfortable, oversized, long sleeve, lightweight, vented, SPF-having Columbia fishing shirts. I’m cannot tolerate the sun and this particular style shirt (I tried many) has helped me so much!” Shannon Mende told us.
2. Heat Holders Socks
Even in the heat of summer, temperature regulation issues may leave you with a hot core but cold extremities. If this is the case, these non-slip knit thermal socks are made to keep in heat to help keep your feet warm – or at least, less icy than usual.
Lola Crayola wrote, “Heat Holders slipper socks with treads are a summer essential here in the UK. My feet are always freezing. I will also be using Magicool spray, and the joys of a shot thermostat. Hot and cold all at once. Who knew? Thanks fibro. Ditto my electric slipper. All year.”
3. Neat 3B Facesaver Gel
This antiperspirant gel helps prevent excess facial perspiration and shine. It is lightweight, smooth, leaves no facial residue and can be applied underneath makeup.
“For facial sweating I use Neat 3B Facesaver Gel,” said Catherine Chase Strauss.” It works great at keeping your face dry in even extreme hot and humid conditions.”
4. Cooling Vest
A cooling vest can help keep maintain your core temperature and keep you from overheating. The vest above comes with ice packs that you can freeze and insert into the vest whenever you need to use it.
“Cooling Vest and sunglasses,” recommended April A Proffer. “I live in Arizona and the summer heat and sun are brutal. I don’t leave my apartment without my sunglasses. And my cooling vest is a lifesaver for longer outings.”
5. Gel Pillow
The pillow features a ConstantCool cover on the outside, plus cooling gel memory foam on the inside. ConstantCool cover fibers are concentrated on the sleep surface and surround gel memory foam, both of which help keep your head and neck cool throughout the night.
“A gel pillow, put in the fridge for half an hour and that baby will get rid of your hot sweats fast!” Katie Tassell told us.
“I have a cooling gel pillow from Costco that is awesome,” added Recebba New.
Melanie Cyr recommended, “My Chillow Pillow and my cooling towels!”
Sunglasses can help if you struggle with light sensitivity, especially if you’re prone to migraines.
“Sunglasses,” recommended Kelly Kenyon Maeser. “I wear mine year round on sunny and cloudy days.”
“Sunglasses – for light sensitivity,” said Rai Smith. “I wear them even when it’s overcast.”
Kayla Spencer added, “Transitions are good, too, if you can swing it. I would get one pair of regular glasses one year, then sunglasses the next. I finally sprang for transitions, and it really helps with unexpected sun exposure. It’s not the same as dark sunglasses, but it’s a good contingency plan, especially when that brain fog means you left the sunglasses at home. I’m glad I did, because I’d never be able to afford them, now.”
7. Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel
This towel is made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) sponge which cools as water evaporates from it. The towel comes with a storage container to keep it moist and ready to use and can absorb eight times its weight in water. It’s designed to help keep athletes and outdoorsmen cool and dry.
“To prevent heat exhaustion or worse I wear a cold wet Frogg Toggs Original Chilly Pad Cooling Towel. I will wet it down with cold water, partially wring out it out, put in and a plastic baggie with some ice and then throw the baggie in my purse and take it with me to baseball games, amusement park or anywhere else where I will be in the heat for half an hour or more. This chilly pad holds the water better then a regular towel without being drippy. It cools off the back of your neck which cools off the rest of your body the most efficiently,” Catherine Chase Strauss.
8. Insulated Tumbler
This vacuum insulated tumbler will keep your beverages cold (or hot!) for hours, no matter the temperature outside. It’s BPA-free, stainless steel and comes with a shatter-resistant lid.
Kelly Kenyon Maeser said, “[A] water bottle or cup like the Yeti brand that keep ice cold for hours.”
9. Ice Packs
Ice packs can be applied simply to help keep you cool during the summer. But if cold therapy also helps relieve your pain, then stocking up on these is a must.
Lara Marie wrote, “Ice packs. All the ice packs. I have five that are the rock solid ones and five that are the squishy ones and I pretty much keep them on a rotating loop 24/7 especially in the summer.”
“Ice packs to use on the back of my neck and my wrists if I get overheated,” added Lori Anderson.
Those with fibro may be prone to sensitive skin or heat intolerance, and exposure to the sun can cause symptoms to flare. Layering up with some quality sunblock that has a high SPF factor can help prevent sun damage.
“Sunblock!” wrote Krystina Kari Ferrari. “Any sunburn makes life 10 times worse for me so prevention is key!”
“I use the baby stuff [because] it is the strongest SPF,” explained Hetha Smetha.
“Factor 50 sun cream. I’m prone to heat rash if unprotected,” said Jill Clayton.
Fans come in all shapes and sizes and can be portable or stationary to keep you cool and comfortable wherever you are. The handheld fan above (left) also has a mister to help you stay cool on the go. An oscillating tower fan (above, right) is great for your bedroom or living room and can be adjusted remotely to change power or direction – no need to move or get out of bed.
Emily Valentine-Southren told us, “Fans! I have a fold up paper one from Amazon. It was really cheap for a pack of 12. I also have a pretty black and red one for when I want to look nicer.”
“Fans!” wrote Angela Sulik. “They are in every room and ceiling.”
Leigh Valentine recommended, “[A] water spritzing fan.”
“Fan,” said Cliodhna Crowley. “I would melt without my fan.”
12. Eye Mask
An eye mask can not only keep out light to help you catch some sleep, but a gel mask like the one featured above can also keep you cool – perfect for those with fibro who struggle with insomnia, night sweats and/or migraines.
“A fan in each room and a handheld one too. And an eye mask for when you need to sleep but it’s too light outside,” Bernie Lawson suggested.
13. Wide-Brimmed Hat
If your skin is sensitive to sunlight, a wide-brimmed hat is a stylish way to protect your face and neck from the harsh summer rays.
“Fashionable wide-brimmed hat to help keep the sun of my head and chest, which rashes when exposed to sunlight,” Terri Di Mauro wrote.
14. Aloe Burn Relief Gel With Lidocaine
Although this aloe vera gel is marketed for burn relief, it can also be used as a cooling agent if your skin tends to overheat. The lidocaine also provides a slight numbing sensation to help relieve pain.
“Aloe and the lidocaine burn gel,” recommended Eloise Taylor. “Works wonders for me. I don’t even need a sunburn for it. It keeps me cooler and helps my joints some.”
15. Essential Oils
Different types of essential oils are known to have different healing properties, both physical and emotional. The peppermint roll ons above can provide a cooling sensation as well as help relieve sore muscles when applied on the body.
“My essential oils. All. Of. Them,” said Tina Brewer.