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Winter Tough on Skin and Sinuses

Stay hydrated inside and out, expert suggests

SATURDAY, Dec. 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The dry air of winter may be invigorating, but it can also irritate your sinuses and your skin.

"Dry, cool winter temperatures gradually cause a drying effect of the upper airways of the nose and sinuses, which can add to preexisting dry nasal and sinus passages in patients with nasal obstruction," says Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist with Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. Irritated breathing passages, in turn, can lead to sore throats or even nosebleeds.

Lack of moisture in the air can also exacerbate a dry skin condition known as xerosis.

Here are some tips on how to counteract the dry winds of winter:

  • Invest in a hygrometer, which measures the level of humidity in your home, Bassett advises. Use the hygrometer with a humidifier to keep the humidity level at about 45 percent to 50 percent. "That's a good comfort level for an indoor environment," Bassett says. Anything above that can activate dust mites and other indoor allergens.
  • Lower the heat in your house slightly at night: 68 degrees instead of 72 degreess or 75 degrees, Bassett says.
  • If you have irritation in the nose or a nosebleed, try Vaseline inside your nasal passages.
  • If you need a specialist, find an allergy expert, an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor or an otolaryngologist.
  • Use plenty of moisturizer regularly to fight dry skin.
  • Drink lots of water to keep your whole body hydrated.

More information

Read more about how to fight winter dryness from the American Academy of Dermatology.

SOURCES: Clifford Bassett, M.D., allergist, Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y.
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