Actually, harmattan has been here since late December, slowly making an unexpected crescendo only just a few days ago.
Harmattan originates from the Twi word “haramata”. It is characterized by cold, dry, foggy, dusty and windy weather. This dusty and dry weather is notoriously responsible for illnesses such as xeroderma (dry skin), dry eyes, bronchitis and the common cold. Although the common cold is a communicable disease, it can be prevented despite the harsh and almost unbearable weather.
How to avoid common diseases this harmattan season
Common cold (cough and catarrh) and Bronchitis
The goal is to keep warm and stay protected from dust. Dust particles are transported by gushes of wind this season and can be seen in layers all around us.
- Keep your nose covered with a breathable face mask.
- keep your surroundings clean and dust-free.
- Use face masks when cleaning dusty areas and in dusty environments.
- Clean cooling or conditioning equipment such as fans, heaters or air conditioners as dust particles easily get stuck inside them.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Wear warm clothing. I repeat, wear lots of warm clothing! This will help you keep warm and cosy throughout the cold days and even at night.
Xeroderma (Dry Skin)
This occurs as a result of the depletion of water and oil from the skin as a result of dry atmospheric conditions this harmattan season. In order to combat dry skin this season;
- Stay hydrated all day long.
- Wear warm, protective clothing (again).
- Moisturize! Moisturize!! Moisturize!!! Use creams and moisturizers to help lock in moisture or water readily available in the skin.
- Avoid harsh bathing or medicated soaps, perfumes and detergents.
This would happen frequently as the eye is naked and exposed to dry wind and dust particles repeatedly during the day causing an itchy, burning and uncomfortable irritation in the eye. To prevent this from happening;
- Wear protective eye wear e.g., googles or glasses and keep them clean.
- Wash with water when dust particles enter into your eye.
- Avoid touching your eyes with your hands especially when dirty.
While you try your best to protect yourself from these common diseases, remember to keep warm, stay hydrated and eat healthy this season.