Humidifiers are an excellent way to help you handle the winter

By Madeleine Jackman

As this year’s brutal winter continues to drag out, our skin, hair and overall health begin to reflect the harsh conditions. From chapped lips to static hair to unending colds, our bodies struggle to fight against the dry winter air.

Coming from Southern California, where an actual winter is essentially non-existent, I anxiously anticipated the severe weather outside – I had heard enough justified complaints from New Englanders to expect the ice-kissed wind and relentless chill. But what ended up surprising me the most was not the intense cold outside, but the extreme, drying heat inside.

Returning to my dorm after a long day of treading the frozen campus, I was more than happy to embrace the warmth of a heated room.

However, I was waking up each morning with chapped skin, a dry mouth and a headache. It seemed unavoidable. But because I was not accustomed to indoor heating, I was quickly able to identify it as the culprit, or at least as an accessory to the weather outside.

Most indoor heating systems create an excessively dry environment, wicking the little winter moisture out of the air. This leads to increased discomfort and even an increased risk of illness as it dries out the mucous membranes, leaving our bodies much more susceptible to colds and flus. Constantly living in this dehydrated environment, both indoors and outdoors, takes a serious toll on physical well-being.

Of course, unless you enjoy residing in an igloo, turning off the heat in your dorm or apartment is simply not an option. Fortunately, there are other simple ways to decrease the negative effects of indoor heating by putting moisture back into the air.

One accessory in particular can make all of the difference this winter: a humidifier. These relatively inexpensive tools are essentially miracle machines, introducing necessary moisture back into the air, helping to quench the body’s desire for hydration.

A humidifier can literally make the difference in your health this winter, bestowing a myriad of benefits both inside and out. Consider a humidifier to be your skin’s best friend this winter and reap in the rewards of hydrated, glowing skin without having to slather on heavy moisturizers.

Humidifiers can help you significantly when sick. They are both a preventative measure, helping your immune system’s first-line of defense by strengthening the mucous membranes, as well as a way to ease your symptoms and breathe easier when already affected by an illness. If the dry air is causing headaches, it will eliminate this as well.

However, it is highly important to change the water daily and clean it regularly in order to prevent bacteria from growing. For most humidifiers, this is as easy as emptying and filling a cup in the sink.

For those of us with roommates who snore, humidifiers can even decrease the noise as well. By helping decrease congestion and increase the moisture in your throat, snoring is reduced. Static shock is also greatly reduced, along with frizzy hair.

Marissa Zaritsky, a sophomore from Poughkeepsie, New York, spoke of her humidifier highly, saying its positive effects were immediately evident.

“I didn’t even realize how bad it was until we bought a humidifier for our room,” Zaritsky said. “Then I couldn’t even go outside in the hallway because I finally understood how dry and unyielding the heating is. Now I can’t live without the humidifier.”

For immediate relief from the dry air today, or simply a more affordable alternative, you can place bowls of water around your room or home. Even better than that, if you have pots or pans, you can fill them with water and place them near or on your radiator or heater so that water is released into the air as it evaporates.

After purchasing and consistently running a humidifier, my headaches, dry skin and cold have disappeared. A humidifier is an investment you will be thanking yourself for every day this winter and for years to come.

Madeleine Jackman can be reached at [email protected]