Myths about Winter Weather and Health

Now that winter is here, so are the winter health myths and old wives tales. The following four winter health myths are some of the most common.

Frostbite is Uncommon

Frostbite is actually quite common. Wet or cold skin numbs and then blisters in as little as 30 minutes, even in temperatures just above freezing. Nerve damage from the blisters can turn your skin black, and you may lose toes or fingers. So bundle up, and take extra care to cover your extremities.

Allergies go away in the winter

Allergies might be the real source behind your stuffy nose and scratchy throat this season. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in five people suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies, and the indoor variety can actually be worse in the winter. Pets don’t spend as much time outdoors, shut windows seal in poor air quality, and many molds actually thrive in the winter.

You lose most of your heat through your head

This myth stems from a study done in the 1950s. In the study, volunteers visited the Arctic with their heads exposed. However, the rest of them was outfitted in gear designed to protect against the cold, so it is only logical that they lost most of their body heat from their heads. To this end, if you go outside fully covered except for your ears, you will lose heat through your ears. The same goes for any body part, and is not specific to your head.

You Don’t Need Sunscreen in the Winter

“Because the Earth’s surface is closer to the sun during the winter months, we are actually exposed to more harmful rays without even realizing it,” says Robert Guida, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. What’s more, snow and ice can both reflect up to 80% of harmful UV rays so that they can hit the skin twice, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. So apply your sunscreen just as you would in the summer!

Now that you know the truth behind these old wives tales, you are better equipped to take on the winter weather! Keep in mind that frostbite is actually fairly easy to get, and you do still need to wear sunscreen even when it is ten degrees outside!


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