Wintery Conditions
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Wintery Conditions

Winter weather dries out the air. It makes it easier for contagious respiratory illnesses—like COVID, the flu, and RSV—to travel between people. It also affects our skin and lips. Here’s a quick run down of some things you can do to fight back against both the serious and more minor conditions that affect us this time of year. 

Get vaccinated. I know. We say this all the time. Because it’s true. Vaccines keep serious illnesses from becoming serious. When you get vaccinated you spare yourself weeks of illness, and you decrease your odds of spreading a potentially deadly disease to someone more vulnerable.

Wash your hands. Wash your hands with warm water and plenty of soap for 20 seconds frequently throughout the day, especially before and after eating or preparing food; after using the toilet, changing a diaper, or helping a child with using the toilet; and after blowing your nose or catching a cough or sneeze. See a complete list of handwashing moments at

Wear gloves. Wearing warm outdoor gloves in cold weather protects skin from extreme cold and wind and the drying that comes with it. Wearing rubber or latex gloves for water-related chores, like doing dishes and heavy cleaning, prevents the water and chemicals from stripping important skin-protecting oils from your skin. 

Eat a healthy diet. Nutritious food is an important part of maintaining our immune system and the moisture in our skin and lips. A variety of proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will provide vitamins A, C, D, and E; zinc; and selenium, all of which help to keep skin and the rest of your body healthy.

Moisturize your hands and lips regularly. After bathing and before bed are good moments to apply moisturizer and lip balm. Target the hands, lower legs, elbows, and lower arms, which get particularly dry, especially as we age. Lotion can keep skin from drying and cracking. Cracked skin can become itchy, stinging, and inflamed and is more vulnerable to infection.

If skin is already in need of healing, moisturize with an ointment. Then, put on a pair of cotton gloves overnight. Dry patches that persist could be a sign of a more serious condition. Consult with your doctor.

With these steps, we can keep our skin and lungs safe from conditions that afflict us when the temperature drops.

Dagmar Tobits, MD, is a primary care and family medicine physician at SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus in Wilmington, VT. The practice is part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington. 


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