Have you noticed that your skin always seems to be super dry during winter months? Winter and dry skin seem to go hand-in-hand, as does dry or stale-feeling hair, a dry cough, watery eyes, and plenty of other issues that can all be attributed to extremely dry air. What causes this ongoing phenomenon every winter? Is it your heater drying out your air and making life at home miserable? More than likely not. In fact, dry air during winter is more or less a natural product of the climate and how air and humidity behave in cold weather.
Why Your Skin Feels Dry During Winter
What causes your skin to feel dry in the first place? The answer is a simple one: your skin isn’t getting the moisture that it does throughout the rest of the year. Your skin actually absorbs moisture from the air around you to stay healthy and strong. However, when winter temperatures cause the amount of humidity in the air to dip, your skin suffers and eventually dries out, cracks, flakes, and becomes generally unhealthy.
Why is low humidity so bad for your skin? The answer lies in a concept known as relative humidity. In short, relative humidity is the principle that says air at different temperatures can hold different amounts of water vapor. Warmer air can hold more vapor than colder air, and thus, colder air reaches its saturation point (100% humidity) much faster than warmer air.
If you have an air sample at 30 degrees and another air sample at 80 degrees, both with 100% humidity, they are going to have substantially different amounts of water vapor in them. If you bring the cold air up to the 80-degree mark, it’ll actually have only a small fraction of the moisture in it than the air that was already at 100 percent humidity at 80 degrees.
When you look at the weather statistics outside, what you’re seeing is a humidity reading based on the air’s current temperature. While the numbers may say that the air outside is fairly humid, the truth is that it’s actually significantly drier simply because it can’t hold the same amount of moisture due to its lower temperature. However, your skin definitely feels the distinct drop in water vapor concentration and begins to feel dry. That effect is only magnified indoors when that air with low relative humidity comes inside, heats up through your furnace, and then circulates throughout your home.
How to Counter Winter Humidity Problems
Different people have different sensitivities to the common problem of low humidity in winter. For some, they feel little to no impact from the change. If anything, they just start seeing a little bit more dry skin around sensitive areas like their face or fingers. However, for others, the lack of humidity can be the source of all sorts of problems. They begin coughing, sneezing, or having an almost-daily sore throat. Their hands can start cracking or chapping. They may even experience nose bleeds or need constant applications of eye drops to remain comfortable. It makes for a rather miserable few months. If you’re in the latter group, you more than likely want some sort of relief to make your life at home more comfortable. Fortunately, relief is simpler than you may have ever thought.
Here are a few humidity-increasing solutions you should consider:
- Boil a Pot of Water. Put a large pot of water on the stove and let it boil for a while. Boiling water turns the water into vapor that then concentrates the air in your home. While one pot of water isn’t going to radically alter the humidity in your air, doing so once a day can have a noticeable impact on your health and overall comfort throughout the winter months.
- Put small dishes of water around your home. Leaving small bowls or dishes of water strategically placed around your home allows the water in these dishes to evaporate. Evaporated water remains in the air as water vapor, in turn making you more comfortable and your skin feel healthier.
- Install a whole-home humidifier. The most effective way to make sure your whole home’s humidity level increases quickly is with a whole-home humidity system. Many of these systems can be seamlessly integrated into your already-existing heating and cooling equipment, allowing the humidity to circulate through your HVAC network. They’re also more affordable than you may think as well!
Tired of low humidity making winter miserable? Call Boothe’s Heating, Air & Plumbing at (301) 200-5248 today to request an estimate.