Facial Palsy and what it is like to live with facial paralysis

Facial Palsy and the dreaded hair wash

As a child my mother used to give me a flannel to cover my paralysed eye while she washed my hair, I don't remember hair washes being too traumatic so I think this works quite well for children with facial palsy. As an adult I tend to lean over the bath and use the "shower mixer" to wash my hair. It is very difficult to wash your hair standing up in a normal shower when you can't shut one eye properly because shampoo runs into your bad eye. I wouldn't recommend making a child who can't shut one of their eyes stand under a normal shower, unless you can point the shower at the shoulders and not over their face. You will also find their bad eye reacts more to chlorine in swimming pools so it is a good idea to let them use swimming goggles if they find it easier.

Visits to the hairdresser where you have your hair washed can be quite embarrassing when you have facial palsy because you lean back over a bowl and you know the person shampooing your hair can probably see there is something not quite right with your face. Also it is a bit of a worry because you can never be sure whether the person giving you the hair wash is a sloppy trainee who is going to let the shampoo run into your eyes!

Facial Palsy & Hair cuts

Hairdressers have a habit of cutting nice tapered edges into hair fringes or bangs. A tapered edge might look pretty, but if it falls to close to an eye that doesn't blink properly then it is going to irritate it. If a child has facial palsy then it is advisable to cut the hair so that the hair ends do not fall too close to the eye. This can either mean cutting the fringe (or bangs) further back (making a wider fringe area), or you may decide to let the hair grow long so the hair that is close to the eye is the smoother shaft of the hair rather than the spiky ends.

When having my hair cut I make sure I am wearing plenty of mascara. I find that any trimmed hair which falls near my bad eye tends to get stuck in the mascara and doesn't actually make it into my eye. Obviously this is not so easy for men with facial paralysis, well the ones who don't wear make-up at least, but I find it helps me! Freshly cut hair in the eye is very uncomfortable and takes quite a while to wash out, so it is best avoided. I don't tend to use eye baths that often but when you have got small pieces of hair in your eye sometimes this is the only thing that will remove it. On the whole I find washing out the eye can cause more irritation to a sore eye and it is better to just use artificial tears. I use Liquifilm artificial tears for my facial palsy, these are better than the normal artificial tears offered over the counter at the pharmacy and really do soothe the eye. Remember it is very important to dispose of eye drops after they have been open for 28 days to prevent the onset of infection.

Update @ May 2010: Someone recommended Systane eyedrops to me and I have found these a big improvement on previous lubricating eye drops, and the best thing is they last for 6 months!