When you see Nurse Habeeba handing out nasal sprays and nose masks in front of her pharmacy at the terminal market in Jos, you know that Harmattan is around the corner. For a lot of West Africans, it is the norm to prepare for Harmattan with these kits as it comes with cold, dust and uncontrolled wind.
Harmattan occurs from the end of November till the middle of March. Usually, it creates weather conditions with low humidity and a heavy amount of haze that produce different respiratory tract infections.
One of the most trying side effects of this weather condition is the general dryness that comes with it. It can cause the skin to itch and become scaly. It is necessary to take some health precautions during this period. To avoid the side effects, it is essential to remain moisturized.
One way to survive the Harmattan dryness is to stay hydrated. It is important to increase the consumption of water. Aim for about 3 litres of water a day. Nutritionists’ say that drinking a lot of water prevents Harmattan related infections, when hydrated, the body flushes toxins and stays refreshed all day.
Consuming caffeine related products don’t count because they eliminate fluid from the body; the body needs as much fluid as it can get at this period. Better options are beverages and fruit juice.
Guard your skin
Ensure that the skin has enough oil to avoid skin cracking and generally walking around with white patches on the body. It is worthwhile to apply petroleum jelly or oil on the skin as soon as one steps out of the bathroom as the body is still moist.
Oiling also applies to the lips, now is a great time to invest in lip balm. It is also important to cream the hair with moisturizing oils so that it does not become brittle and fall out.
Shower with warm water
Harmattan mornings are mostly cold and there is a general temptation to shower with hot water, this isn’t particular suitable. Lukewarm water is a better option because hot water strips the skin of its biological oil barrier, resulting into dryness and itching. Dermatologists recommend short warm baths that do not last longer than 10 minutes.
Monitor what you consume
Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is encouraged. Especially the ones containing Vitamin A. A good example is carrot as it is low in calories, contains very low fat and has about 1,069 micrograms of essential vitamins.
In additional to this, eating healthy fat is good – not all fat is bad. Nuts, seeds, fatty fish and avocados produce good fat.
Exfoliate your skin with safe products
Exfoliating the skin three or four times a week clears out dead skin cells and allow new skin cells form. Use of body scrubs and cleansers with ceramides are recommended.
Exfoliating a little too much can cause the skin to go back to dryness so it is important to be moderate about it.
Remaining moisturized during the Harmattan is vital. It is important to avoid the dust as much as possible, make use of nose masks and sprays and wear warm but loose clothing.