The Best Products for Migraine Self-Care

The Best Products for Migraine Self-Care

Written by Greg Bullock on 22nd Jan 2018

Treating migraine can be an exercise in frustration for many patients. Frequent misdiagnoses, ineffective or inconsistent medications, a lack of meaningful alternative therapies, and poor emergency migraine care all create a significant treatment burden for those with the headache disorder. As a result, they often have to turn to practicing self care in most of their daily lives in order to function and thrive. It is why you often hear them talk about their “migraine toolkits”—which refer to the products and resources that they rely on either for prevention or for acute relief. Let’s take a look at some of those products that can be utilized for migraine self care.

Unscented Soaps, Lotions, Shampoos, and More

unscented soaps

Given the fact that strong odors are frequently cited as a trigger—perhaps for as many as 70% of migraine patients1—fragrance-free skin care and hygiene items are an absolute must. This includes items such as soaps, hand and skin lotions, shampoos and even laundry detergents. Not only are these great for the home, but you can often find them in travel size containers to pack on the road. And better yet: they don’t typically cost any more than their full-scent counterparts.

Ice or Heat Packs

icekap for migraine

Image courtesy of Ice Kap

The use of an ice pack on your head is not going to take away all your migraine problems, but they may be able to blunt the intensity of the pain. In fact, cold therapy (particularly when combined with light pressure) to the neck or scalp has been shown to offer at least some relief.2,3 In addition, specific products have been developed for people with migraine, including IceKap and Headache Hat—both of which have mostly positive customer feedback.

Ginger (Various Forms)

ginger tea for migraine nausea

Numerous advocates with migraine highly recommend having something in your self-care toolkit to calm the nausea you may experience during an attack. This includes ginger tea, ginger ale, and even candied ginger—all of which can be possible options to keep handy in case you are one of the countless migraine patients who deal with this awful symptom.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Earbuds

noise cancelling earphones

If loud sounds are problematic for your migraine attacks, then you should consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs. As these are also portable, they travel quite well too so you can have on the go if you need them. Although there are some very high-end brands that can cost a lot of money, the price for these products have come down significantly over the years.

Migraine Tracker Apps

migraine buddy tracking app

Image courtesy of Migraine Buddy

Another key aspect of migraine self care is the ability to monitor and document your attacks. This not only helps you better understand your triggers, but can also help your doctor develop more accurate diagnoses as well identify potential treatment options and their results. Thankfully, digital smartphone apps make keeping a migraine record easy and have further allowed patients to better predict when they will experience an attack.4 Migraine Buddy and Curelator are two of the more popular apps that easily enable you to keep track of migraine-related activity. Both are available for iOS and Android.

Meditation / Yoga Products

woman practicing yoga

Relaxation, meditation, and yoga activities have been shown as an effective alternative for migraine relief. They also can help reduce stress—one of the top triggers for migraine. Although there are countless products that could fall under these categories, a yoga mat and instructional guide books or videos are a great place to start. Joining a yoga class or securing private instruction may also be an option.

Precision-Tinted Indoor Glasses

theraspecs precision tinted eyewear, audrey indoor

Migraine attacks are often accompanied (and even triggered) by sensitivity to light. But you can’t hide all day in a dark room or behind a pair of sunglasses. Precision-tinted lenses, which are designed specifically for people with migraine-related light sensitivity, are the perfect option to reduce the effects of fluorescent lights, computer screens and more. Leading brands like TheraSpecs are reasonably priced ($99-$149 for a non-prescription indoor pair) and also come with a money-back guarantee.

Dark and Polarized Sunglasses

man wearing dark and polarized sunglasses

When you have to deal with harsh brightness of daylight, you need major protection for your eyes and your brain. Therefore, you should always have a dark and polarized pair of sunglasses to pop on at a moment’s notice whenever the sun gets to be too overbearing. The polarization also cut down on the reflective glare of outdoor light.

Eye Mask

eye mask for migraine

Eye masks can provide protection from ambient light and provide gentle compression to soften the intensity of a migraine attack. Some brands include gel packs that use cold to further reduce pain. These can be particularly effective during an acute migraine attack as well as for traveling or flying.


More Self-Care Tips for Migraines

There are dozens of other suggestions for practicing self care if you have migraine, and they might include:

  • Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Getting sufficient rest and maintaining regular sleep patterns to reduce fatigue and physical stress
  • Getting regular massages, particularly at tender points above the shoulders
  • Minimizing the amount of medication required for acute attack treatment
  • Allowing your body and brain enough time to recover after an attack
  • Having personal comfort objects accessible to help through painful moments. From a favorite movie, album or book to some quality snuggle time with a pet, this can really take the edge off even if it can’t take the pain away.

Of course each person may respond differently to any of the above therapies, which makes knowing your own triggers and experiences an integral step to identifying what works for you. But at minimum, self care before, during or after migraine attacks is critical to your physical and emotional health. And we hope these and other strategies make a positive impact in your journey with migraine.

References:

1Silva-Néto R, Peres MFP, Valença M. Odorant substances that trigger headaches in migraine patients. Cephalalgia. 2013;34(1):14-21; https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102413495969.

2Ucler S, Coskun O, Inan LE, Kanatli Y. Cold Therapy in Migraine Patients: Open-label, Non-controlled, Pilot Study. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2006;3(4):489-493. doi:10.1093/ecam/nel035.

3Sprouse-Blum AS, Gabriel AK, Brown JP, Yee MH. Randomized Controlled Trial: Targeted Neck Cooling in the Treatment of the Migraine Patient. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health. 2013;72(7):237-241.

4N.J. Giffin, L. Ruggiero, R.B. Lipton, S.D. Silberstein, J.F. Tvedskov, J.Olesen, J. Altman, P.J. Goadsby, A. Macrae. Neurology Mar 2003, 60 (6) 935-940; DOI:10.1212/01.WNL.0000052998.58526.A9

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