by Ashley Lateef
Every winter, rumors swirl about how the cold weather can affect people. Some of these ideas have become so ingrained people believe they are true even though they have no factual evidence. Separate the facts from the fiction with these winter health myths.
Allergies affect as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In winter, indoor allergies are very common. Many people assume cold weather is the culprit. The real reason? According to USA Today, as temperatures drop, pets don’t spend as much time outdoors, windows are kept closed which seal in poor air quality, and mold grows.
Research shows that running in icy weather cannot make you sick. In fact, the real causes of illness involve staying inside and close contact with infected people. Cold weather actually might activate your immune system, increasing your norepinephrine, a hormone that works as a natural decongestant.
Myth: Skip the sunscreen.
Although the weather tends to be overcast in the winter, up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, Ultraviolet (UVA) rays are always present—even in winter—and they can damage the deeper layers of your skin, increasing your risk for skin cancer and causing skin to age prematurely. So make sure to lather up before your ski trip.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu shots are made with either an inactive form of the virus or no flu virus at all. Neither type can give you the flu. Although you may still get the flu even if you've had a flu shot, the shot isn’t responsible for the sickness.
Winter can, actually, help you retain and “save” your hair. University Hospital of Zurich conducted a six-year study finding that most women lost more hair in summer than in winter.
Many people believe that cold and flu become more common as the temperature falls. Research shows that, despite what your mom has told you, simply existing in cold weather isn’t, itself, likely to make you get sick. According to Consumer Reports, exposing one’s skin to cold temperatures does not have an effect for getting sick.
Hand sanitizer will kill most viruses, but not all. According to CNN, bacteria "can adapt to alcohols and other ingredients found in disinfectants". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state the the most effective way to reduce germs is the traditional soap and water route. But don't throw away your hand sanitizer just yet! The CDC also found that if you have a disinfectant that contains at least 60% alcohol you should be good to go.