There’s a lot of things that people love about winter even it may not be your favorite season. Who can honestly say they aren’t looking forward to the cute mittens and scarves, the delicious festive foods and seasonal hot beverages, and snow (if you live in a place that actually gets snow)?
With all those wonderful things to look forward to, dry skin is definitely not one of them. Sure, you can have dry skin in any climate and any time of the year, but have you ever wondered why dry skin is such a problem during winter?
Today, we’re going to look at the effects of dry air on skin, what dangers can come from dry air on the skin, and how to protect your skin during the winter. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive right in.
Before we can talk about the effects of dry air on our skin, we first have to understand what dry air actually means. The short answer is it is air that doesn’t have any water vapor present.
Dry air is also what you call when the relative humidity is below 40% which causes the air to feel dry on our skin. If that relative humidity remains low for too long, it can make your skin dry out, make your lips chapped, and even put more static in the air.
So, why do we have dry air in winter? Warmer air can hold more moisture than cool air. During the winter, any air that comes into the house and gets warmed up, it’s going to be dry because there’s no moisture in it. Unfortunately, dry air in a room is going to suck the moisture out of anything in that room – including your skin.
Dry air is problematic for your skin because more than half of it is water. So imagine when your skin comes in contact with said dry air, the air is going dry out your skin, causing it to become itchy, flaky, and it may even feel like your skin is really tight around your joints.
Dry air in winter can also cause existing skin conditions to worsen, like eczema and acne. Dry air also poses problems for other areas of the body, not just the skin. These problems include:
There are moist membranes lining your upper respiratory system and their job is to collect dust, dirt, bacteria and even viruses before they have a chance to get to your lungs. However when dry air comes in and sucks the moisture out of those membranes, they’re not going to be able to do their job correctly, thus increasing the possibility of getting sick.
There are some people whose nasal passages can become uncomfortably itchy when exposed to dry air. Since most of our breathing is done through our noses, the low humidity can cause the inside of your nose to become irritated, dry, and painful. Some people even experience nose bleeds because of dry air!
Even though the thermometer may say one thing, when the air is dry, your body may feel colder. Your thermostat may say it’s 75 degrees, but if the air is dry and it’s sucking the moisture out of your skin, your body is going to feel cooler.
You may be wondering to yourself, “What is the ideal humidity level for your skin?” According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHREA), our skin is at it’s best when the relative humidity is between 45 to 55%, although we can still feel pretty comfortable in the 30 to 60% humidity range.
Although winter’s dry air may be knocking on your door, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it. One of the most effective ways of eliminating dry air in a room is by purchasing a humidifier.
A humidifier can increase the humidity in a room, but they tend to require regular cleaning and changing of filters. When you’re buying one of these, you’ll want to make sure that is going to be able to cover the amount of square footage in any given room. Also make sure your choice can hold a lot of water because you don’t want to refill it constantly.
If you notice that your paint is starting to peel, water is condensing on your windows, or you see moisture stains on your ceilings, then that’s an indicator that there is too much humidity in your home.
You can decrease your home’s humidity by installing exhaust fans in rooms that tend to have higher humidity levels, such as the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on installing multiple exhaust fans, you can purchase a dehumidifier, which is basically an air conditioner with both hot and cold coils. The fan will blow the air over the cold coil so that moisture in the air is condensed and drips into the collection area. Then the air will pass over the hot coil to bring the air back to temperature.
Despite all of your skin care efforts, all of that hard work can be put on pause once winter strikes and that dry air starts taking its toll. Fortunately you can take steps to prevent dry air in a room simply by buying a humidifier.
A humidifier will help prevent your skin from cracking, cause pre-existing skin problems to get worse, your respiratory system failing to prevent diseases, and even prevent nosebleeds. Of course, don’t forget to maintain your skin care regimen, but you may also want to keep a moisturizing lotion nearby just in case.