ADHD Personal Hygiene

ADHD & Personal Hygiene: You are not Alone in this Struggle

Do you have issues with your personal hygiene? If you answer yes, don’t worry. It seems like this is a common concern among people with ADHD. What ADHD symptoms can affect our ability to maintain personal cleanliness?

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Reviewed by

Dr. Guia Canonizado - Custorio

Mental Health Professional
In this Article
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ADHD & Personal Hygiene: Wait, What?

Plenty of people message us on our Instagram, asking, "Why is everything related to ADHD? A neurotypical person can struggle with these things, too." Their message is valid, and I cannot argue with the challenges they experience because I deeply understand that each person is different. What might be okay for me might be difficult for others 👌 . We cannot discredit the fact that people not suffering from any neurodivergent disorder struggle, too - because the reality is that everyone does. However, people with ADHD may have unique struggles regarding personal hygiene, because our brains are wired differently 🧠.

There are things that we have to deal with frequently, sometimes, on a daily basis. Struggle with sensory issues, distractions, and emotional dysregulation are some of the few symptoms that are connected with ADHD that can amplify our difficulties. These ADHD symptoms can affect our daily lives and routine, preventing us from functioning properly. 

For instance, problems in maintaining personal hygiene can have a huge impact on our lives. 

did you know that people with ADHD can struggle with personal hygiene?

I have posted an Instagram story asking about the daily tasks they struggle with the most. I was shocked that many of their responses all relate to maintaining proper personal hygiene. Things like taking a bath  🛀 and using a body wash, remembering to put deodorant on, or tooth brushing can be too troublesome for them. 

Personal hygiene can be significantly affected for a person with ADHD because of the symptoms we tend to experience.

The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: "Overwhelming stress, difficulty organizing, and a lack of prioritization – which are typically related to ADHD - can contribute to poor grooming and hygiene. Furthermore, higher levels of anxiety, and sometimes even symptoms of depression, can have a significant impact on self-care in ADHD."
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ADHD Symptoms Can Cause Hygiene Struggles

To the people who read this blog who don't have ADHD, please hear us out before you start judging us with our hygiene thing. It is only natural to prioritize self-care, and we always want to feel tidy and comfortable when we are outside. However, the ADHD traits we experience, such as our often subpar time management skills ⏰, may cause us to miss specific tasks we need to do.

it's because our ability to maintain a good personal hygiene can be impacted by ADHD symptoms...

But why do people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have a hard time with this kind of task? Here are some of the possible adult ADHD symptoms that can affect your ability in maintaining personal hygiene.

Affected Executive Functions

An ADHD brain can have executive function issues. This means that the ADHD brain might have a difficult time when it comes to planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks. Many people with ADHD find it hard to start a task because they can't figure out how to start or what needs to be done first.

like struggling to plan when to wash your hair

Problems in planning can be a significant factor on why some adults with ADHD struggle with personal cleanliness. They may have so many other tasks that they think are far more critical than personal hygiene. 

The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: "According to studies, adults with ADHD prefer occupations that are exciting, busy, and involve some risk. This can have an impact on personal hygiene because most of energy is spent at work and rest and other (more exciting) activities may be favored over a thorough bath."

One great example is choosing between taking a bath 🧽 or washing your face after going outside. Many people with ADHD might get confused about which task should go first, which activity is a priority, and which can wait for another day. Apparently, we plan to take a shower, but it's just that we need to know when we can execute this task. Can it still wait so I can finish the report on my desk? Maybe next week? Just kidding!

Less Attention to Detail

Have you ever experienced going outside and going home without noticing that your clothes 👚 were worn inside out, or there's a huge stain on them? Sometimes, when we struggle with home organization or chores, the clothes we have already used find their way back to the clean pile of garments 🧺! There's a high chance that we will wear these clothes again without washing them yet. After all, we might struggle to remember if we have already worn them or not. As long as we think it is still comfortable to wear, nothing can stop us from wearing them.

or not noticing your clothes are not that clean...

I was busy doing other important things at home when I decided to let my impulsivity win. I felt hungry, so I decided to go to the local grocery shop and buy food to satisfy my hunger. When I was waiting in line to the cashier, my friend saw me and immediately noticed the coin-sized stain on my shirt. I admit I felt embarrassed by her comments during that moment, but I just continued with what I was doing and laughed it off.

I tried to think about where I got my shirt or why it was stained. Was it because I couldn't remember if I did the laundry correctly? Or did the stain come somewhere else? Well, as far as I know, I didn't notice that stain before I changed my clothes. 😄

Preference on Hygiene Products

When I was trying to be independent and decide things on my own, I needed to have more research on a certain brand before trying them. I also ask for help from other people with the product's details, like how it smells or tastes. Sometimes my friends think this is weird, but this is a big deal to me. If I ever forget to bring my personal hygiene kit with me whenever I'm outside, please don't expect me to brush my teeth properly or take a bath. I had to use my preferred brand, or else I'll get a different feeling.

struggling with showering because of sensory sensitivity...

The perfect soap 🧼 and toothpaste for people with ADHD depend on a person's preference. There is no absolute brand that a therapist recommends for you to use. But why do we talk about these things? It’s because of sensory sensitivity, one of the many ADHD symptoms. 

Sensory sensitivity or simply hypersensitivity is a common characteristic of people with ADHD. It occurs when we are more sensitive to things. Hence, we frequently have specific hygiene product preferences because of our tendency to be highly sensitive with the smell and even texture of these products.

We tend to struggle with different external stimuli that make our senses overwhelmed. When a certain brand of toothpaste is too sweet or spicy, we tend to brush our teeth quickly because we can't stand its taste. The same goes for our body wash, shampoo smell, and bath water temperature. When our personal preferences aren't met, we might as well not take a shower.

Sometimes I notice I have issues with slimy stuff. When I put too sticky or gooey lotions 🧴, my skin feels weird and itchy. I wouldn't say I like that feeling, so I completely avoid using those products. Instead, I use natural or organic products because they have no scent or too many chemicals in them.

Did I Already Brush My Teeth?

For the past week, I cannot remember the number of times that I took a shower 🚿. Honestly, there are moments when I seem to forget I have already taken a bath. There are times I was just lying in bed, watching movies on Netflix, and haven't sweated or moved that much. That's when I forget if I have showered or not. The only thing that makes me realize that I need to take a bath is when my hair feels oily already or when my skin feels itchy.

or straight up forgetting to brush your teeth...

The same goes with brushing my teeth. There are moments when, after eating, I can't remember if I have brushed my teeth yet or not. Being forgetful is one of the most common symptoms of ADHD, and with an amplified tendency to get distracted, it can be certain that you'll have moments of forgetting things that you have done.

There are so many ways on how ADHD affects our poor hygiene. Many adults in the ADHD community can relate to this dilemma, so we cannot deny our struggle in managing our personal hygiene. This is especially true for people who stay at home and live alone as they tend to focus on other things that can give them more benefits. 

The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: It is normal to forget things now and then, but forgetfulness is more common in the presence of ADHD. Impaired executive functions include memory recall, which increases the likelihood of forgetfulness.

Don't Be Ashamed. The Struggle Is Real

There might be times when you'll feel down and be quite ashamed of your struggle in maintaining personal care. Just like me, there are a lot of people with ADHD who feel the same way. We need to understand that this is real, and sometimes it's not just about being lazy. Of course, it's not just because we don't want to do it. We have a different brain wiring that sometimes makes it hard for us to cope with the demands of maintaining good hygiene.

struggling with personal hygiene can bring a lot of shame...

Let's think of fun ways to maintain good hygiene and hope we can diligently follow these rituals. Here are some tips that you can try in order to manage your struggles and have better personal hygiene:

  • Join an ADHD community that understands you. Some people are feeling pretty vulnerable when sharing personal stuff with others. And having this kind of feeling may not be understood well by people who are not familiar with our struggle and can be a reason for their negative comments or judgment. 💏
  • Read online articles regarding health and wellness from reputable sources. There are different resources and other articles found online tackling how we can manage our personal hygiene in fun and creative ways. These articles can help us be more aware of our bodies and give us tips on how to better care for ourselves. Plus, reviews and insights of the user can help us save time, money, and energy rather than trying different products on our own.
  • Develop habits for your personal care. Make a routine out of your daily activities, especially for your personal hygiene and try to stick to it as much as possible to make it a habit. You can have a fresh morning routine whenever you get out of bed or develop habits of doing everything at night before going to sleep. This way, you can feel pretty good about starting your day or have a good night's sleep at night.
  • Have an accountability buddy. Tell someone you trust that you struggle with maintaining your ADHD personal hygiene and need their help. Ask them to check on you now and then or be there whenever you need support and encouragement. Or, if there's none, set alarms and reminders to help you remember to do your personal care. 💪
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Watch out for the food that you eat. Sometimes, even if we do our best to keep ourselves clean, there are still instances that we can't help but have skin breakouts or smell bad. This can be because of the food we eat and sometimes, the other stuff in the environment around us. So, it's essential to be mindful of what goes into our bodies and try to live as healthy as possible.
  • Maintain a manageable length for your hair. If you notice that your hair care routine is becoming overwhelming, it may be time to switch to low maintenance hair styles, or if short hair is your cup of tea, you can keep it short.

Of course, there are still other ways that we can try to overcome our struggles with maintaining personal hygiene. But as a final reminder, don't let yourself sink into the thought that you're the only one struggling or you're the only person who feels this way. Don't let your self-esteem be caught up with the difficulty of maintaining good hygiene. Just remember that you're not alone in this and that other people like you are willing to help and understand 😘. So, don't hesitate to ask for help when needed and be more proactive in managing your personal hygiene.

ADHD and Personal Hygiene: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can ADHD cause problems in personal hygiene?‍

ADHD cannot directly affect personal hygiene, but its symptoms can. That’s why many people with this neurodivergent condition struggle with personal cleanliness. 

What ADHD traits can make it hard for some people with ADHD to maintain personal cleanliness?

Several ADHD traits can make it hard to maintain personal hygiene. Being easily distracted can make you forego things like taking a bath or brushing your teeth. Being sensitive to hygiene products can also pose a challenge. Of course, there are instances of being forgetful with activities that concern cleanliness. 

How can you overcome this challenge?

Having a hygiene routine is a great way to overcome this challenge. Being stocked with the products you use can also help you stay motivated in taking a bath or brushing your teeth. If you must, set reminders or have an accountability buddy. If things become too overwhelming, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a mental health expert. 

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