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Community Feedback: Tips for Showering with COPD.

Community Feedback: Tips for Showering with COPD

COPD brings with it many challenges, one in particular is the increased difficulty of everyday tasks. When your breathing is labored and you often feel exhausted, so many daily tasks become especially challenging – especially showering.

There are many of you in the community who used to enjoy long, steaming-hot showers to relieve the stress of the day, but now, showering can be a stressor in itself! But you are not alone – showering is a common challenge among the COPD community, so we asked all of you: “What tips or strategies do you have for showering with COPD?”

Below are just some of the over 80 comments you all shared:

Terry cloth towel-robe – Saves lots of energy!

  • I use a terry toweling robe after showering, one with a hood – you don’t have to dry yourself and there’s no extra towel to hold up.
  • I use the robe instead of towel drying to save energy
  • I rarely dry myself with a towel – I usually just put on my terry cloth robe or drip dry. I just don’t have the energy to use a towel

Handheld shower head and a chair

  • I sit on a shower chair and use a hand-held shower head. Then I just take it slow.
  • The shower chair makes it much easier. I also had a handheld shower head installed with a hanger for it so it doesn’t hit me in the face but rather at shoulder level.
  • I have a chair in my shower and a hand held shower wand. It helps a lot.
  • I have the chair, the handheld head, the oxygen – it’s better, but I still struggle

 Crack the door and leave the curtain open

  • I don’t have a fan, so I leave the door cracked open 4 inches to let steam out. Works great! I start with curtain closed and open it a crack if too steamy.
  • I leave the shower door open a little bit and even the bathroom door open too
  • I let the shower curtain open a little to breathe – it seems to help me

Lower the heat

  • I keep the water as cool as I can handle
  • I used to take steaming hot showers. Now they are just warm and it’s not so bad
  • I use luke warm water so the humidity doesn’t cause a flare-up
  • I never thought I’d be taking cold showers by choice, but I do now

Wash my hair in the sink

  • Washing my hair in the shower is way too much work. I do it in the sink every other day
  • I wash my hair in the sink, if at all
  • I stopped washing my hair in the shower. I do it in the kitchen sink where I have the cabinet to lean on. Takes a lot less energy

How about you? Do you have any other clever tricks or approaches for easing the burden of showering? Feel free to share in our comment section, or on our Forums page to keep the conversation going!

And a huge thanks to all of you who shared your experiences!


  • Carriej
    8 months ago

    Wow, all of these tips sound like what I do for showers. So glad to discover a really good terry robe instead of a towel. And I also no longer wash my hair in the shower; only in the kitchen sink with the counter to lean on! Oh, and a shower chair & I don’t close the curtain. It freaks me out to do that now. I leave the door open to release humidity, too. Never super hot showers, either.

  • LynnInUtah
    8 months ago

    I don’t dare take showers anymore, for fear of having an anxiety attack. I use pre-moistened wash cloths or use the bathroom sink at a very slow pace.

  • Carriej
    8 months ago

    Well I do that also. I do have anxiety attacks in the shower, as well. I’m afraid the fire alarm will go off when I’m there or other such things. Freaks me out being naked & vulnerable when I can no longer move fast like I used to. I also sit on the toilet to have a sponge bath. Weird, because my tub is right beside me, but I think it’s the running shower water that freaks me out. I can’t swim & never could put my face in the water–although I tried for years and years. I panic right away, so I easily panic when I start gasping for breath with COPD. I have worked on rescue breathing techniques & going pretty well with that.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi LynnInUtah and thanks for joining in the conversation. Do you think it would help if you started out by taking a bath? You could ease into bathing that way and, if it works for you, then try the shower? What about taking a shower causes you to be anxious? Leon (site moderator)

  • Carriej
    8 months ago

    Not Lynn here but I thought that would work for me–to have a bath but I found the struggle to bend down and eventually sit down in the tub was too much. I get severe muscle spasms as well if I move the wrong way. I don’t have the strength in my arms or legs to just sit down in the tub anymore. I still think it’s a good idea to try a bath–one that is easier to get into. I would do that if I had a different bathtub set up. It would be so lovely to soak in the tub again! Read a book! Ya, well, many things have changed & we just try to find ways to cope.

  • LesleyR
    2 years ago

    My shower is over the tub, I have a bath seat across tub.
    I have a “step”, my hubby made which I stand on to get in and out of tub.
    I have a hand rail in wall near shower, a rail length ways at other end which I place 2 hand towels to dry off excess, especially hair, before I get out of tub.
    I have a rail attached to side of tub which is an additional and stronger support aid for getting in & out.
    A tip if you have plastic rails that are attached by suction Do NOT put all your weight on them.
    I use a bath brush, for my back and legs.
    I always leave window little ajar.
    I leave the door a little ajar, unless of course if I have visitors.
    While I have 2 Shower Curtains over tub, I use only 1 and cover my hand towels with 2nd one to prevent them getting wet.
    If I am having a bad Breathing Day, I will put a towelling robe on to dry off.
    I also keep the water as cool as I can handle.
    I always take a bottle of water in with me as sometimes a mouthful of water is necessary.
    As a retainer I am not on oxygen but my brother was and he had an extra long tubing.
    I sit on a shower stool outside of tub to catch my breath or if I “dry off” in bathroom.
    I also now take my cane with me and have in easy reach when I get out, this is mainly for my dodgy back and hib.

  • Paula
    3 years ago

    With an extra long tubing, you can wear your oxygen in the shower – NOT the actual concentrator or the tank, just the nasal cannula with oxygen being delivered for you to breathe while showering.

    Even though all these ideas are great and very useful, accept there will still be those days where just doing the bare minimum is all you can do.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    All good points, Paula! We appreciate sharing your thoughts and ideas on accepting our limitations with the community. The use of longer oxygen supply tubing while showering is an invaluable tip for many of our membership. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Barb
    3 years ago

    I also have my hair washed leaning over the kitchen sink. I can’t reach my arms up any more so my daughter or my granddaughter washes it for me. (I’m lucky enough to live with my daughter and her family)
    In the shower I have my chair that rotates but I also have a soap caddy that sticks to the shower wall right at my reach when I sit.
    I also found a hand held shower bracket that is attached to the shower wall either by suction or adhesive at my height so I don’t have to hold the shower head. It is easily removed to take on trips. (I just purchased another one to use when traveling.)
    I have my towel in arms reach and do most of my drying while still sitting on my chair.
    I have a towel on the floor as I get out of the shower and use it to dry my feet picking the side of the towel up with my toes and drying one foot then the other.

  • Jenn Patel
    3 years ago

    Hi Barb!

    Thanks so much for sharing what works for you with our community! We really appreciate it and I hope it helps to know you’re not alone in experiencing the challenges of showering with COPD. Kudos to you for coming up with strategies to make it more doable!

    Thanks again!
    Jenn ( Team)

  • Cotter
    3 years ago

    Grandma Glen, what makes it easier for you to do a bath instead of shower? I dread showering. But make myself do it. I also turn up my oxygen just when I am in the shower. And I also do my rescuer before. It all helps some . But I am curious & a little leery about a bath. Thanks for your information. I need all the help I can get…I love this web site….

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Cotter and thanks for posting your comment. I’m hopeful that Grandma Glen will see your inquiry and respond.
    We also appreciate you letting us know the value you find in our website – it means a lot to us to get that sort of feedback.
    All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Omasiaz
    4 years ago

    I have given up on doing my own hair, once a week I go to a beauty shop, cover my hair when I take a shower. Have chair and shower head, but when I feel too exhausted, I just wash the most important parts by hand.
    Next Wednesday day I go to Dalles for a stem cell procedure.
    It’s at the Lung Institute. The success rate is 84% , hope I will be one of the successful ones.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your experiences while showering with us, Omasiaz. We wish you all the best for your upcoming (stem cell) procedure this coming week.
    Please check back with us and let us know how you’re doing.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Grandma Glen
    4 years ago

    It’s much easier to wash your hair in the kitchen sink and bathe in the bath tub instead of a shower.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Grandma Glen and thanks for posting your own experiences with ‘showering tips’. We appreciate you participating here.
    If you haven’t already, you may want to visit us at our Facebook site:
    We are all things COPD.
    Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

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