If you live in a cold winter climate or in the desert, you can depend on the air being very dry. Chances are you experience reactions to the dryness in a number of ways, and combating this is not easy if your stay in such an environment is prolonged.
What you are reacting to, however, most of the time, is not the outside temperature and humidity but the indoor RH – relative humidity. RH is a measure of how much moisture is in the air. As soon as the heat is turned on in winter or the sun hits the desert sands, that indoor humidity level drops very low. It could be 67% humidity outside and 20% RH inside (or less).
That level harms wood furniture, books, pets, and us! Low humidity can cause not only dry skin, but itchy eyes, nosebleeds, sinus problems, respiratory illness, disturbed sleep, and muscle aches. It also means a greater susceptibility to colds and the flu. (You can actually breathe better in cold air than you can in air that is too dry.)
So what can you do? The heat has to stay on if it’s cold outside. If you live in the desert you can use air conditioning, but that brings its own set of respiratory issues, as well as creating a shock to the whole body system if you move between an air conditioned space to the hot outdoors. Here are 9 safe and assured ways to make life a lot more comfortable if your environment is too dry for maintaining good health and comfort:
1. Purchase a humidifier
There are many on the market, and some are better than others in terms of how well filters operate. Cool mist is one option; another is ultrasonic. The main thing is to bring the RH up to a level between 40%-50%, and a room humidifier is designed to do exactly that.
Have 3 or 4 plants in every room, if possible. They are a splendid way to add moisture to the air, and they enhance the room in both décor and ambience.
Be sure to consume additional amounts of Vitamin C with rose hips and zinc. Additions of Omega-3 help give skin a breather. Also try to limit caffeine, which dehydrates the body and skin.
4. Avoid synthetic fabrics
If possible, wear only wool or cotton clothing. See if you can get pillows stuffed with natural fabric.
Synthetic fabrics often do not allow the skin to breathe in cold or hot conditions, and the body sensitivity to temperature can fluctuate when you enter dry areas. This can exacerbate eczema, too.
5. Lotion, lotion, lotion
Use natural lotions with the fewest artificial ingredients, since many OTC (over-the-counter) products have alcohol derivatives, which are drying. (That seems a marketing contradiction, since companies offer the lotions to help, when in fact they can hinder healing of dry skin!)
If you are inclined, you can make your own lotion for hands and body and face using ingredients such a shea butter, coconut oil (an all-purpose winner), aloe vera, and olive oil. The Internet has many herbal websites that give simple recipes for making your own. You can store them in jars in the refrigerator.
6. Protect your skin
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, and use sunscreen, use it in conjunction with a rich skin protector. Petroleum jelly works especially well on your face (add just a little water and it absorbs well into the skin).
Coconut oil is excellent to use on your hands while wearing gloves, since it doesn’t stain. When you come in from outdoors, apply a lotion which has aloe vera as a main ingredient to soothe and heal chapped areas.
7. Take short showers and don’t let the water get too hot
This applies to saunas and hot tubs, too. The skin needs moisture and high heat in the water will take away its natural oils right away. However, adding olive oil to a bath will alleviate the dry skin and still allow you to relax in the water.
8. Avoid harsh ingredients
Avoid products with glycolic ingredients that can be harsh to the skin when combined with icy winds and dry air. Instead, use a honey and yogurt mixture as a mask treatment for the face – honey is an ideal agent for soothing dry skin and yogurt gives great hydration.
Add a small indoor fountain to a room. It is an ideal way to add moisture to the air while offering the soothing sound of water flowing over rocks. All these methods will improve your health and well being in a house with low RH and in a dry climate.
Is your house too dry? One quick way to tell is if you experience a lot of static electricity. Do you find yourself waking up congested or feel the rooms in your house are stuffy? Those are definite signs.
Do you have a DIY method of improving the dry air that you’d like to share? By all means let us know in the Comment box at the bottom of this page.