Tactile Allodynia –
When Clothing Hurts.
It’s a strange concept to grasp when clothing hurts you. When a simple touch causes pain. Not just any pain, a burning sensation or a deep tissue bruise feeling. However this is all too common for patients of Chronic Illness conditions, when their clothing hurts them. This is also referred to as ‘Allodynia’ meaning “other pain” – triggering pain sensations for stimuli that would not normally be considered painful. Where ‘Tactile’ refers specifically to touch. Tactile Allodynia therefore is the term used to describe a light touch that is perceived as extreme pain/ agitation.
The pain Tactile Allodynia causes can range from one spot pain such as a tag left on your shirt or whole body pain like a heavy sweater. Choosing the right clothing is mission impossible, unless you work from home and get groceries delivered. In which case you rock those PJs! Because I certainly understand how comfortable those are. Out in the corporate world you sometimes cannot compromise presentation, however you should not have to compromise comfort and relief from pain. For this we are after loose-fitting, lightweight, non-constricting natural fabrics.
Without further introduction, my top wardrobe tips for when clothing hurts:
For underwear we are wanting 100% cotton, seamless and low-rise. Or skip the low bikinis and opt for waist-high. Either way you will not want them ending on your hips. Work out what is best for you through trial and error and when you find the ultimate comfort – buy ten pairs. If you can locate ones of which have light printing of the brand name instead of a tag, this will provide some extra comfort.
Oh man, are these designed by the devil or what? In fact I cannot think of any piece of clothing that is quite so painful, yet so bloody necessary in the public eye. If you are rocking an A-B cup and can wear a shirt that will allow you, please don’t feel ashamed to go bra free. In fact that applies to anyone who can get away with it! However if needed I’ve listed a few things to keep in mind.
- Soft Cotton Material.
- Clip at the front (helps when you are having bad pain days to avoid the reaching and twister poses.)
- Bra Extenders. These are a personal life saver to relieve the tight banding around your back/chest.
- Wide straps. Ensure that the pressure is shared across as much of your shoulders as possible to avoid spot pain and digging straps.
- Get a professional fitting. Actually, no, get three. The more the better as each store seems to vary so widely! This is super important so that you are wearing the correct bra size. The wrong one will leave you with digging marks, red lines, a bad back, poor support of breasts and funny looking outlines.
- Try a soft cup bra without underwire/plastic.
- Alternatively if you have no issues pulling bras over your head, give a comfortable soft sports bra a go.
- For the smaller sizes bralettes may just be your answer.
People are often very particular with socks. Firstly it’s very important to choose seamless socks to avoid the pressure points and agitation that seams cause. From there some people like small, lightweight ankle socks. These place the least amount of pressure on your skin. Otherwise people, like myself, prefer long (I’m talking knee-high) socks as these offer compression. I love this style as it really keeps my swelling in check through my feet and ankles.
High waisted pantyhose put so much pressure on your waist and on your upper inner thigh. But in the workplace they’re sometimes a necessary evil you may have to face. Instead opt for thigh high pantyhose where the pressure will be a little less intense.
Skirts offer free-flowing from the waist down, eliminating painful seams and tightness around thighs. These can be dressed up professionally or dressed down casually. Light weight maxi skirts are a great solution on days when your sensitivity is heightened.
If pants are needed for your job ensure you’re choosing a pair with minimal seams and low waisted. When it comes to waistbands for skirts and pants elastic waist bands put less pressure on you than buttons and zip ups. However if you can find some drawstring pants these offer the most comfort. You should try aim for material that is as high in cotton as possible and steer miles clear from denim. In fact my $18 K-Mart drawstring cotton pair are my absolute favs! These can be dressed up professional, but with maximum comfort. (So good that I used them riding my horse… so actually need to take another trip to the store.)
Another option is to go for a pair of maternity pants. I haven’t yet brought myself to try this, but have definitely spoken to people who have. They have some super secret looking maternity pants out these days with comfortable, stretchy waistbands to provide relief of pressure points.
If you’re a female that often suffers from having your clothing hurt you, I cannot recommend dresses enough. (Heck, even if you’re male – I really don’t judge.) Push past confidence barriers if this is what has stopped you and give it a go. Aim for a T-Shirt dress which has little to no pressure points or a lightweight maxi for maximum comfort with lower body coverage. Stay clear of spaghetti thin straps which tend to dig in and high neck lines which leave your neck agitated. It’s also recommended to avoid tight dresses with even tighter waistbands for we do not want restriction of movement and pain.
When choosing your top stick to the loose-fitting, light-weight rule. A loose cotton button up is often a great place to start. Sometimes pulling things over your head can be all a bit too much. If you can manage buttons these definitely offer an advantage there. Again we’re looking for wide straps to relieve pressure on shoulders and no thick seams. For colder weather you will want to layer up with something light. Anything too heavy and bulky can really weigh you down. Light cotton cardigans is a great place to start, or a loose light sweater.
Sun protection: It’s important to ensure you are fully protected from the sun to keep your skin sensitivity as low as possible. Along with many health issues extreme sun exposure can cause, often medication you may be taking requires you to stay out of excessive sunlight. Choose a beautiful wide brim, lightweight sun hat, slap on a bunch of sunscreen and a long sleeve loose cotton shirt if venturing out.
Jewellery: Often statement necklaces weigh too heavy on our chest, so instead choose an eye-catching delicate piece on a light chain. If you find your wedding rings only fit your hands on certain days due to swelling you can pop these on a chain also. Ensure it is double secured with two clasps or a safety catch to prevent the unwanted.
Extra bits and bobs: Remove all tags fully to avoid scratching and pain. Search through the inside of your pants and shirts also for spare buttons. These are often sown in near the seam and if not removed feel much like ‘The Pea and Princess’ storyline.
Lastly – Just be comfortable.
There is no use putting yourself through pain day in and day out just to look good. I bet you rock activewear and pajamas like Miranda Kerr.
Let me know if you have anything further to add and what works for you. Remember, to get these helpful tips and more direct to your inbox sign up below. It’s totally free and will help you beat brain fog moments of needing to check the webpage.