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How to Shampoo a Bedridden or Mobility-Impaired Individual

shampoo and towels Most of us have experienced (at least second-hand) the issues that arise when someone is sick and in bed for an extended period of time. The hair gets limp and often oily, matted with sweat and will tend to begin to smell after a few days. The short-term solution is the use of a “dry shampoo” or a “no-rinse” shampoo. These are typically similar in purpose, but are intended for differing hair types.
 
‘Dry shampoo’ is typically packaged as an aerosol spray that contains an oil-absorbing ingredient that can be brushed out of the hair once it has done its job. It’s typically used with those who have oily hair or straight-to-wavy hair types. You simply spray the powdery spray onto the hair at the scalp, let it dry (meaning allow the fast-drying propellant to evaporate) and use a natural-bristle brush to brush out the residue. Before the creation of specific products for this purpose, many people would use talcum powder or corn starch in small amounts to produce the same effects.
 
‘No-rinse shampoos’ are liquid based, and usually come in a foaming formulation that is applied liberally to the hair and allowed to dry on their own without rinsing. They often contain alcohol or other quick-drying ingredients as well as including leave-in conditioners to soften the hair and make it more manageable. These are used more with individuals with wavy-to-curly hair types and those whose hair tends to be dry or fly-away.
 
However, while these products are great for the short-term, after a while, they seem less effective as the hair begins to develop build-up. When this happens, you want to be able to give the hair a thorough cleansing. To do this, you need to look at the process a little differently than you might normally consider it.
 
Shampooing the hair consists of two primary stages: Cleansing and Rinsing. With the able-bodied person, applying shampoo to hair that is wet while they recline over the lip of a shampoo sink is simple, and is easily followed by a thorough rinse of the foamy lather. With a person who cannot be positioned over a sink, you have to consider the problem carefully and work around the limitations. Here are a few things to make the process easier on you:
 
   • 2 spray bottles (one of which should hold at least 1 liter of fluid)
   • Hair clips (to control the hair should you need to work on smaller sections at a time)
   • 1 wide-tooth comb
   • 1 fine-tooth comb
   • 1 shampoo cape (available from a beauty supply store and are very inexpensive)
   • Several towels (depending on the length of the hair – with at least one hand towel)
 
You want to be sure to drape the shampoo cape around the individual’s neck using the hand-towel against the skin so that you have a barrier to absorb any dripping moisture from the rest of this process. Lay one of the extra towels on-hand on the side on which you are working to catch drips as well. (I know this may seem excessive, but you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to change wet bedding afterward, and so will the person you’re shampooing).
 
Next, use your wide-tooth comb to comb through the hair and remove any tangles and snarls gently. Once any tangles are gone, divide the hair into sections depending on the length of the hair (for longer hair, use smaller sections), and use your clips to secure the section you aren’t working on out of your way.
 
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