Dry Weather and Your Health – What to Know

July 09, 2019

A child outdoors

Dry weather – as northern Nevadans we know it well. Of course this doesn’t mean we’re not affected by its health impact whether you’re new to the area or are a native. Stephanie Stutz, DO, a Renown Medical Group doctor specializing in family medicine, explains how to live comfortably in the high desert.

Have you noticed dry skin, itchy eyes or more bloody noses? If you call northern Nevada home, you’re probably no stranger to these problems.

“We get a lot of questions from people wanting to know, ‘what can I do to prevent things from happening from the dry weather?’” says Dr. Stutz. “We do have a dry climate, and obviously in the summertime you notice it more than in the winter, so we look at things like dry skin, dry eyes and dry nose.” It generally takes about two weeks to become used to the change in climate.

Dry Weather Health Tips

Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to reduce your discomfort in dry weather.

  • Dry skin. “If you have dry skin, use a lotion without perfumes so it won’t increase the potential for drying your skin out,” recommends Dr. Stutz. For example, one home remedy for extremely dry skin (or for those with thinner skin) is cocoa butter. “It’s thicker so it goes under the skin and takes more time to absorb. As a result, you get a much more long-lasting effect.” Dr. Stutz adds. “You can also add lavender essential oil to your cocoa butter to help you sleep at night.”
  • Dry and itchy eyes. “Use eye drops on a regular basis and keep them with you. I recommend people have a couple of bottles – one at home and one in their bag,” Dr. Stutz suggests.
  • Dry nose. “Overall one of the best things to use is a simple nasal wash,” she says. “You can get it over the counter; it’s a saline nasal wash. Use it a couple of times each day and it can be extremely helpful. In particular, gets up into the sinuses and clears them of any pollen or residue in there.”

Dry Weather Nosebleed Advice

In our dry climate, you may also notice more allergies and nosebleeds. Dr. Stutz cautions, “Surely the dry air can make your allergies much worse. It can create much more irritation, pain and pressure, particularly in the nose and sinuses.” Again, Dr. Stutz recommends using a nasal wash to remove discomfort.

Using a nasal wash two to three times a day can also help prevent nosebleeds. “And if you’re someone who has severe or chronic nosebleeds, you can put a little bit of Vaseline along the inside of your nose to create a moisture barrier”.

Dry Weather Medication Advice

In addition to allergy and nosebleed sufferers, people on certain medications may be at greater risk for symptoms in our dry climate. “The medications you are on can make you much more susceptible to drying out and becoming slightly dehydrated,” Dr. Stutz warns. For this reason discuss all of your medications with your doctor. Specifically, see if you can time them throughout the day or look at changing the dosage.

Should I Get a Humidifier?

Given our year-round dry weather, you may want to purchase a humidifier to help ease your symptoms. But there are some things you should know first.

“You have to be careful with humidifiers as there are pros and cons,” states Dr. Stutz. “The small tabletop humidifiers are not beneficial. You need to get one covering a huge amount of square footage and holding approximately 10 to 30 gallons of water to help your home. On the negative side, if you’re not maintaining it on a regular basis, it will hold on to mold and other allergens. So the next time you turn it on, you’re actually putting that back into the air.”

Do I Need to Go to the Doctor?

To be sure, it’s important to know yourself and your family. If this is something you experience each year, you can try over-the-counter medications. “But remember, there’s always the caution if you’re on prescription medications,” Dr. Stutz explains. “If you are on chronic prescriptions, come in to get evaluated just to make sure you’re not using anything which interferes with your medications.”

Not Just a Summer Problem

As the temperatures drop, remember this isn’t just a seasonal issue here in the Reno-Tahoe area. During the winter months, our dry climate combined with cold temperatures and heaters can still cause dry skin, aggravated sinuses and even itchy eyes. So use these helpful dry weather tips all year.

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