The harmattan season often comes with excitement for some people but it is not always the case for others.. For some, the cold and dry wind from the Sahara is what they want while others dread this period.
Harmattan, defined by AUN Health Center as “a dry, dusty easterly or north-easterly wind on the West African coast, occurs from December to February,”
According to Twi word haramata, the harmattan weather originates from the dry and dusty harmattan trade winds which blows from the Sahara desert over West Africa. It usually comes between the end of November and the middle of March.
In most parts of Nigeria, it is often believed that the wind normally begins on the 11th day of November. This day is popularly regarded as 11/11. It is more or less a myth as it is not backed up by any scientific proof.
Harmattan is mostly prevalent in places closer to the Sahara/Gulf of Guinea which are placed in the direction of the wind. The effect is quite severe in these parts and it is hardly felt in the South Western part of the country.
One of the prominent features of harmattan is the very cold temperatures, especially in the mornings/nights and very hot weather in the afternoons. The humidity normally drops very low with dusty winds.
Another feature is the harmattan haze. This is mostly observable in some West African countries of Africa which Nigeria is one of them. This is comparable to heavy fog and can severely lead to the limitation of visibility and block the sun for several days.
The dry, cold and dusty wind and the haze among others are some features of the harmattan wind that could make the period quite uncomfortable for some people especially visitors. For Europeans and people in the temperate regions, this is different from your typical winter season.
This is December and we are in the heart of the harmattan period. This period will see us undergo some physical changes in our bodies. Some of these may include dehydration, dry and cracked lips, and in most cases, dry skin. People with people underlying health issues may find life very difficult and tough this period.
However, there are simple steps to help you get through the harsh weather that the harmattan brings. So if you are in any part of the country or you are planning on coming in, here are some health and fashion tips to keep you healthy this period.
Keep Water Close By
Avoid dehydration as much as possible. Get a water bottle. This is top on the list because it is very important. Dehydration is a prominent feature of this period. You get thirsty easily during harmattan and it is not very good for your health. For you to stay healthy and hydrated, I would recommend you avoid carbonated drinks and juices as much as possible. This calls for discipline because I will recommend you take more water instead of your usual carbonated drinks, go for. Drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day as this will help keep your whole body system working properly.
Keep Your Lips Moisten
The thought of a dry and cracked lips scares a whole lot out of me and I believe you feel the same way too. Aside the fact that it doesn’t look good, it causes pain and could leave your lips bloodied. To avoid this is very simple. Make your lip balm and moisturiser/petroleum jelly/oil your best friends. Keep a lip balm and moisturizer in your bag, pocket or somewhere easily accessible. You can apply the balm on your lip and the moisturiser on the skin intermittently when you discover any of them is starting to get dry.
Lips chapping is not the only effect, additionally, you could have dry skin. And it is quite irritating. To avoid rough skin and protect the texture of your skin, you need to also use a good body moisturizer.
Moisturizers help the skin to stay hydrated when absorbed into the skin. Some effective moisturizers you can use may include olive oil and Shea butter.
Olive oils have a high and healthy concentration of fatty acids and it is the perfect remedy for skin dryness.
Shea butter works as a lotion, and its work is to soften and keep your skin hydrated. It also protects your skin from dust, dryness and harmful pollution in the air during harmattan seas. In addition, the fatty acids in the butter, such as linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmitic, helps to protect the skin.
Take vitamin C
Catarrh and Flu-like infections are prominent features of the harmattan season. I find it very difficult to stay away from this and a number of people living in dusty areas also have this challenge.
However, there is a way of reducing the likelihood of you contracting the flu. Taking Vitamin C helps fight the negative effects this flu could have on the body.
Stay Away From Dusty Areas
If you are an asthmatic patient or you are allergic to dust, this is particularly for you. Harmattan comes with a lot of dusty winds and this often trigger attacks. Consequently, I am going to recommend such people stay away from dusty areas and have their inhalers on them at all times. Avoiding dust completely during harmattan is not always possible so I am also going to suggest the wearing of a nose/face mask during this period as you come in contact with dusty environment.
Handle Fire With Utmost Care
Fire loves harmattan so monitor your fire closely to avoid accidents. Fire tends to find the harmattan period a very comfortable time to cause havoc. It normally gets aggravated during harmattan. Avoid burning indiscriminately and if you must burn anything, ensure you monitor closely to avoid stories. Most fire accidents happen in this season because everywhere is dry and the fire can travel easily without restrictions.
Watch What You Eat
The best kind of food for this period are fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they are rich in water content, which helps to prevent dehydration from the air during the harmattan season. The fruits also help to fight against infections and resistance against a chronic cough and other illnesses linked to the common cold.
A Combination of Honey and Lemons in Warm Water
Developing an irritating feeling in your throat is common this period. If you ever develop this, the remedy is not to run to the hospital first but a simple combination of honey and lemons in warm water. This miracle combo is perfect for dry and irritating parts of your throat. It acts as a quick relief as honey is nature’s remedy for cough and sore throat. You can also smear honey on a snack or add to tea or coffee, depending on your preferences.
Take Your Bath Regularly
Bathing for every adult should be a habit already but during harmattan, it is compulsory. Frequent bathing is very necessary as it helps in washing off dust and dirt carried by air. You may have to change your routine here especially after getting exposed to dust particles. These particles could contain harmful elements. To ensure your body is not a habitat for such, go take a bath and preferably a warm bath.
The choice of what to wear during this period is very important and is key to staying healthy. It’s pertinent to choose what’s appropriate for the weather, so as to avoid exposure to cold or develop dry skin. Staying warm during this period is very important. Wearing thick and heat-absorbent clothing help to keep you warm as heat expelled from the body is trapped thereby limiting heat emission to the environment. Hand gloves socks and well-covered footwear are needed for maximum warmth. Exposing your eyes to dust particles may harm them so wearing glasses is highly recommended. A lack of it causes redness and itchy eyes.
The coldness and dryness are on the increase across Nigeria and to keep you healthy, we have curated some important tips for fashion lovers, visitors and Nigerians.
Wear Protective Hairstyles
For Nigerian ladies with 4c hair, harmattan can be terrible for the tips. It can lead to a dryness in the tips and hair breakage. I recommend you wear hairstyles that keep your ends hidden such as braids, tie scarves and keep hair moisturised.
This may not be an ideal fashion choice for folks in Nigeria. The harsh weather in most parts of the country doesn’t really allow for this however, turtlenecks are very useful during this harmattan season. I don’t think I can think of a better way to combat the cold and still look completely stunning. Pairing your turtleneck long sleeve top with jeans or pants doesn’t just help keep you warm, it keeps you stylish.
This may not be popular fashion style due to the cost of getting one but if you could get your hands on one, please do. A Leather top keeps you warm and sexy. It is a perfect combination of a material that combats cold and a good fashion style that brings out your elegance.
You Need to Watch Your Legs
For ladies with beautiful legs, you have got to do your best to protect them during harmattan. Showing off your killer legs this period considering the amount of dust flying around is not advisable. Go for long dresses and skirts. Flaunting dry or dusty legs is not one bit classy!
Eyeglasses should be part of your outfit this period. They come in handy and serve different functions, from helping to protect your eyes from dust to add a touch of glam to your outfit. Don’t forget to always go out with a pair. Your eyes should be protected.
Sweaters and Hoodies
At this point, it is clear that cold and harmattan work hand in hand. Get yourself covered and warm by pairing your clothes with thick coverings like blazers, jackets, sweaters, hoodie, and whatever thick clothing you can find.
Warm Clothings and Beddings
When it is time for bed, don’t forget to protect yourself. The weather is usually bright, sunny and hot in the day time but could get nastily cold at night. To be on the safer side, put on warm clothing when going to bed at night or when going out in the mornings. You can loosen up your clothes as the day heats up.
Despite the cold and dryness the harmattan brings, you can still stay healthy and stylish. Just follow the health tips and fashion style and you are going to be fine this period. Do your best to protect your lips from cracking, your skin from chapping and for asthmatic patients, avoid dust as much as possible. Stay healthy and stylish.