Dry Skin: How Low Humidity Affects Your Health

Dry Skin: How Low Humidity Affects Your Health

Relative humidity in our area tends to run high, but indoors, it's a different story, especially in wintertime. HVAC systems are designed to remove humidity to make us feel more comfortable, but when drier, cooler winter weather prevails, the low humidity indoors can be too much of what otherwise is a good thing.

Low humidity is particularly hard on our skin. We've all experienced the dry itchiness that prevails in the cooler months, not to mention dried out mucous membranes that aggravate allergies and respiratory issues.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do about low humidity in your South Bay Peninsula home.

EFFECTS OF LOW HUMIDITY

Lower humidity dries out your mucous membranes, leading to inflammation and a greater chance of catching colds, flu and other infections due to cracks and tears in the lining. The best way to prevent this is to keep the moisture level a bit higher in your home.

Also, a higher moisture level makes it harder to transmit the flu virus. Flu is transmitted when someone sneezes or coughs; the virus may have a better chance of being caught on moisture droplets and falling to the floor, rather than being transmitted to another host. With drier conditions, the virus's ability to reach another host is improved.

IDEAL HUMIDITY

The ideal humidity for most homes in the winter is between 40-50 percent. You can purchase an inexpensive hygrometer at the home improvement store to monitor your home's humidity.

You can boost humidity by doing the following:

  • Boil water in pots on the stove.
  • Add a number of indoor plants to the home.
  • Take longer showers, keeping the bathroom door open.
  • Use a portable humidifier.

A better solution than any of these is to install a whole-home humidifier, which can add moisture to your home to the precise level needed. Portable humidifiers require moving them from room to room and refilling them. Whole-home models are tied into your plumbing.

Visit the Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical website for in-depth information on low humidity and most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at (408) 868-5500.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).