The other day I woke up in a pool of blood.
OK, I’m exaggerating a little. But my knuckles WERE dry, cracked, and bleeding a bit. Clearly, my old moisturizer isn’t up to the task this winter.
But the real problem, of course, isn’t my skin or even my moisturizer. There’s a bigger issue. Which is the dry, heated air inside my toasty warm home.
And according to new research, that same dry air could ALSO play a key role in how the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 infection thrives and spreads.
Fortunately, there’s a fix. It’s not quite as simple as using more moisturizer… but it’s not very difficult, either.
And experts say there’s a good chance taking this one step today could help protect your skin AND cut your infection risk at the same time.
How DRY AIR helps viruses to thrive and spread
Here’s an old persistent myth you’ve probably heard a billion times before. Cold weather can make you sick.
Heck, most of us are guilty ourselves from time to time of calling out, “Put on a jacket, you’re gonna catch something!” as a loved one walks out the door. But of course, infections are caused by viruses, not temperatures.
However, it turns out there IS another factor that can play a role in whether or not one takes up residence in your body. It’s one that’s often a problem in winter… as my dry, cracked knuckles can attest.
When we turn on the heat, we dry out our rooms. Viruses just LOVE that warm, dry air because it allows them to reach their one and only goal in life. Which is, of course, to spread.
In warm, dry air, viruses can actually shrink and even turn dormant for a period. Now that sounds POSITIVE on the surface. But not when you learn this next part.
Under the right low-humidity conditions, those dried out bugs can float around like dust in a flour factory, settling everywhere and anywhere, including inside your body. Scientists even refer to it as “float time.” And once they sneak in, those viruses can reactivate inside the much more germ-friendly climate of your airways.
That’s true of cold and flu bugs. And Harvard Medical School researchers told Forbes magazine that the same appears to hold true for the coronavirus.
They say that merely injecting moisture into the air in your home could help cut the risk of infection with all kinds of viruses. In fact, the researchers say changing the humidity in your home could cut your infection risk from all sorts of viruses… including cold, flu, and the coronavirus… by as much as 60 percent.
And other humidity research done on outdoor air environments found a 10 percent decrease in humidity could potentially even double your risk of infection.
Now keep in mind, of course, that despite it feeling like we’ve been battling the COVID-10 pandemic for eons now, we’re just closing in on a year. This means we still have a LOT to learn about this bug. But decades of research on humidity and airborne diseases tells us we could be onto something here.
Help yourself stay healthy with humidity
Forbes reports that warm and dry air can make us more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus in the winter. It’s basically a perfect storm for pathogens.
And anyone who lives or works with other folks can confirm it. Once one of you catches a cold, for example, chances are the rest of you will end up battling it before too long too.
But I’ve got good news. It’s a problem that is easy enough to fix. You just need to add a little more moisture to the air.
Now, you don’t want to turn your home into a steam room, of course. That’s not healthy for extended periods, either. About 50 percent humidity, give or take, should do the trick.
You can get a hygrometer – which tells you the humidity of a room – for about 10 bucks off Amazon.com. Most will also give you the time and temperature, and some will do more, making them handy to have around in any case.
When your humidity drops out of the just-right zone, turn on the humidifier for a bit. If you don’t already own one, there are reasonably priced humidifiers online. And it’s an investment that can pay off in good health for many winters to come.
Just be sure to thoroughly clean your humidifier between uses. When not properly maintained, they can start growing nasty mold inside.
A humidifier will keep the air in your home comfortable all winter long. Plus, experts say it could help slow the spread of viruses. And as a bonus, it will even help stop your skin from drying out, so you don’t wake up with bloody knuckles.