ARE YOU READY FOR THE HARMATTAN?
Harmattan is a hot, dry and dusty wind that blows over West Africa. The wind blows from the Sahara Desert into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March. Harmattan has very far-reaching medical implication, as it consists of fine dust particles between 0.5 and 10 micrometres.
It affects all exposed surfaces of the human body, including the skin, eyes, nose, mouth and the respiratory tract, which directly communicate with the atmosphere. The skin can become dry during harmattan season as a result of the dry wind. When the skin is dry, it becomes wrinkled. The skin can also have cracks, which can degenerate into bruises. People also have the tendency to develop skin rashes during the season, which can also induce itching, whereby they may inadvertently introduce infections to the skin.
Therefore, people need to be well hydrated during the period, and use emollient creams which help in moisturising the skin, like Swissgarde’s Camphor cream. Adequate fluid intake can also prevent heatstroke. If one has bad cracks on the skin, there is the need to wear clothes that would cover the feet and other parts of the body prone to dryness. It is very necessary to wear appropriate cloths.
Harmattan can also predispose people to asthmatic attacks, sneezing and coughing. There is plenty of dust, pollen and hay fever, which cause irritation, inflammation of the airways and triggers allergic reactions. Crust and dryness in the nostrils may also predispose to epistaxis. To prevent this, use Swissgarde’s Royal jelly and Immune booster. It is safer sometimes, to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes, where the winds are quite dusty and harsh, to prevent infections and irritations. People should observe high level of personal hygiene to prevent the spread of infections, such as flu and tuberculosis from person to person through sneezing and coughing. This means that our flagship product “Aloe Power”, must be part of your protective kit.
There are other hazards that are associated with human interaction with the environment during this period. During harmattan, there is an increased tendency to breathe dry air with lots of dusty particles, which leads to increased incidence of sneezing, nose bleeding, cough, catarrh, sore throat, as well as trigger attacks in asthmatic patients. So, to prevent some of these respiratory diseases indoors, we must wash our curtains, clean our windows, fans and air conditioner filters, and avoid fluffy rugs or regularly vacuum clean them. It is advisable to drink lots of water during this period and do stream inhalation, with water not too hot to burn the face, which helps to smooth the airway.
Minor nosebleeds, due to breakage of small blood vessels during aggressive sneezing can be healed with little or no First Aid, but if it continues, one must approach a health facility for care, as there could be other causes that must be arrested. Marina Spa helps with sore throat.
Asthmatic patients must remember to always be with their inhaler and those on medications should be compliant. dusty particles in the air can find their way into our eyes and can cause tearing, redness, itching and allergic eye diseases, if this happens Swissgarde’s Eye-brit can come to the rescue.
During the cold weather, the oxygen content of the blood might be reduced, which can trigger attacks in sickle cell anaemia patients. So, it is advisable to keep warm and wear layers of clothing. Also, the very cold weather can predispose children and the elderly, to hypothermia. So, a closer care and warmth should be provided to these age groups.
Humidity drops by 10 to 15 per cent during the harmattan season. Thus, regular washing of hands and body is important to remove settled dust on the skin and use of moisturising creams should also help, as noted earlier.
The harmattan season overlaps with the meningitis season and with the increased incidence of respiratory diseases, mothers are advised to ensure their children are vaccinated. We must not wait for this period because the positive effects of immunisation are far reaching and protect against diseases we do not know when they would attack. Some of the products already mentioned can equally boost our immunity.
Harmattan is associated with increased rate of fire outbreaks; therefore, people must avoid bush burning and careless exposure of inflammable materials.
The harmattan season is associated with known health hazards, most of which can be prevented. Prevention has remained a better option. If you want your harmattan protective kit, you are free to ask for it.
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