Whoa, the difference between winter and summer in Japan couldn’t be more extreme. After spending June to September desperately trying to escape oppressive humidity, come November, people approach a season so dry it feels like they’ll crumble into pieces like a fragile ice sculpture. And everything is painfully itchy along with it. It’s dry even when it rains.
Blame it on pretty dry air masses from Siberia, but there’s not a lot Japanese can do about that.
They take extra measures:
Extra humidity indoors, hygiene masks fashion statements outside included, they super moisturize their skin and lips, eat lots of raw fish and avocado (omega 3, 6, 9 intakes increased) — basically, they bring extra moisture into every aspect of their lives, and more specifically, into their skin.
Skin is usually where the dryness bites most, although even breathing in the dry air can be a little uncomfortable.
The most comfortable humidity levels are around 45-60%. At 30-40% humidity, the skin begins to suffer and the common cold becomes more prevalent. Humidity in Tokyo has been known to drop as low as 9% (in summer it can top 80%)!
Some of you may think — But rain, snow! Shouldn’t it be, like, a high humidity level? Or shouldn’t it be low humidity during the summer?
No, quite the opposite.
That’s because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. Ideal indoor humidity during winter should hover around 45%. But dry winter air can cause your humidity to drop substantially, to levels of 15 percent or less. With the humidity, imbalance comes a number of potential problems that can affect your health, your home, and especially your comfort.
Few aspects of colder weather months can be as irritating as dry autumn or winter air. From flyaway hair to scaly skin, the cold winter air can wreak havoc on your body’s appearance. But did you know that dry winter air also can make you vulnerable to illness?
Breathing dry air can cause respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds. Breathing dry air also can cause dehydration, since body fluids are depleted during respiration.
Problem 1: Dry air slowly diminishes your illness prevention mode
The upper part of your respiratory system, including your throat and nose, is lined with moist membranes. These membranes serve to capture dirt, dust, viruses, and bacteria before they reach your lungs. When these membranes lose too much moisture to dry air, their ability to capture particles becomes compromised.
Your sinuses will dry out, the mucus that normally should be gooey and thick and can trap infection gets drier. So you’re more likely to get a cold because your mucus is not as able to catch things that you breathe in.
Proper humidity levels help these membranes do their job preventing harmful particles from getting into the sensitive areas of your lungs. So if you take steps to keep the right amount of moisture in your air, you can actually reduce your risk of illness. Imagine that.
Problem 2: Your nose simply does not approve!
Particularly dry air can cause another uncomfortable and unpleasant symptom: itchy, uncomfortable nasal passages. Why? — Because the majority of breathing is done through the nose, duh, low humidity levels can cause the inside of the nose to be pretty dry and irritated. This is not only painful, but it can also cause nosebleeds. But properly humidified air keeps the nasal passages healthy and comfortable with every breath.
Place small pots with water near the heat resources, invest in air humidifiers, combat the dry air!
Problem 3: Your skin is hurt!
Some people might feel that their eyes are dry or irritated, but the thing is, your skin is the main target, You know this common human shell fact: our skin is our biggest organ and it consists of almost 60% water. So, when the air lacks humidity, it takes moisture from the next available moisty thing. And that “thing”, most of the time is your skin. It will start to dry out naturally because it donates it to the air. The next thing is itching, flaking, and tightness. It can also cause painful cracking of the skin and chapped lips. Overly dry air can also cause flare-ups of existing skin problems, including eczema and acne. But humidified air can help keep your skin feeling great throughout even the most miserable winter.
Problem 4: Irritating static electricity
When air is properly humidified, the static electricity everywhere, even your home, naturally disappears. However, when the air is too dry, this static electricity begins to build up. It goes wild. Everything you touch will give you a small electrifying tingle. This can also cause blankets and clothes to stick together. And, more noticeably, it can cause painful electric shocks every time you touch a doorknob or another metal surface.
Back to the times when the air has enough moisture in it: the thing is that the electricity is no more before it even occurs. So you don’t feel the shocks, and you have no problem making the bed or folding the laundry.
Problem 5: Your home dries out too
Dry air tries to absorb moisture wherever it can find it. This means that during cold winter weather, dry air can start to pull moisture from the structure of your home. Oh-oh. As your house dries out, you’ll notice that floors, particularly hardwood floors, will begin to creak more. Wood furniture can start to bend and even crack. Musical instruments can lose their shape and their tune. Even paper items such as books and artwork can become brittle, warped, and wrinkled.
Dry air pulls moisture from the wood in the frame of your home, causing walls and doors to shift. This can make them hard to open and close and cause gaps between ceilings and walls. These gaps can also form in windows that are made entirely of wood. This lets in the cold winter air, thereby increasing the cost of your heating or electricity bill.
Problem 6: Real feel temperature is -100 degrees
The other annoying thing with low humidity is that it makes areas feel colder than they really are. Wind usually doesn’t help with it either.
Everything seems way colder than it really is. Just like the opposite, high humidity makes us feel hella boiled. Pun intended.
So, without the moisture in the air, you might even be tempted to crank up the heat even higher—which only makes the problem worse. Not only does your skin and immunity has to suffer, but you are also paying more for it? sigh