It is necessary that we take our hands off the plough every now and then to take care of ourselves, and our homes. We can ignore this during the other seasons of the year, but never during the harmattan.
A lot of people look forward to harmattan but some others see it as their worst time of the year. To those that love it, the weather is dry, they don’t sweat much and everywhere looks neat. On the other hand, those that hate harmattan complain of dusts, dry and scaly skin, cracked lips and so on.
No matter how you look at it, harmattan must come and go every year. Some parts of Nigeria experience it from November to March, while other parts encounter it from December to January. But there are parts of the country that never experienced what this season felt like and their natives marvel whenever they find themselves in places that “enjoy” this weather.
The only way to manage the harmattan season is through abiding by the “rules and regulations” guiding it. The cases of fire accidents, cracked lips, broken heels, dry coughs and others that accompany harmattan can be brought under control if you do the right thing.
Below are ways you can take care of your home and your body during this harmattan season.
Taking Care of Your Home
The major challenges people face in their homes during the harmattan season are fire accidents and dust encroachments. For those that have little children and wooden furniture, you might notice that more broken furniture emerge within this period. Well, here are simple ways you can handle these challenges:
- Clear bushes around your house. This is done during the rainy season to discourage breeding homes for mosquitoes and snakes. But during the harmattan, it is done to protect the house from fire accidents that may be caused by bush burning. So, don’t wait for “hunters” and “labourers” to put your house in danger; take time to go round your house and clear off every form of plant that may put your home in danger. If the bush happens to be in another compound, contact the owner and get him or her to clear it. Should the owner prove uncooperative, take the matter to the Fire Service, they know what to do.
- Remove matches, lighters and other kindling out of the reach of children. Remember things easily ignite in this weather, so keep your home safe from within as well. You should also explain to the children why they shouldn’t play with fire now and later. Tell them gory stories about fire incidents which will stick more to their memories.
- Close your windows. Don’t bother so much about fresh air right now because what you will get more from out there are dust particles. It is better to leave your windows closed (or partially closed), especially during the day, to reduce the quantity of dust and cold dry air that find their way into your house. If you must open them, do so in the night when human activities have reduced and less dusts are raised.
- Go for heavier curtains. I noticed some people change their window blinds during different seasons of the year. At this time of the year, they go for heavy curtains that can trap in warmth and keep off dust. Maybe you too should try that too.
- Taking Care of Your Body
Someone said that women suffer more during harmattan than men because women have softer skins that can easily break. I haven’t tested this hypothesis but I believe everyone needs to take care of him or herself during this season.
What most people suffer from at this time of the year include dry cough, scaly skin, cracked lips, cracked nostrils, broken soles and hair loss. A lot of entrepreneurs use this opportunity to rip people off their hard earned money in the name of special creams, soaps and ointments. But the answer to fixing and avoiding all these are right there before you; and they are cheaper to get, if you know how to find them.
Below are some of the ways to stay and look healthy this season:
Wear warm clothes, especially in the night. This will protect you from cold that accompanies harmattan. It will also protect your skin from the harsh dry weather. This is no time to show off your skin, so look for something that will cover you up.
Drink lots of water. You might notice that you are not that thirsty these days. Nevertheless, your body still needs plenty of water. So, continue with your water therapy and keep your system clean and your skin supple.
Use mild soaps. Remember this weather is already dry and harsh. For that, don’t go for soaps that will deplete your skin of the extra moisture and oil that it needs to stay healthy and glossy this season. Go for simple soaps that remove dirt and be weary of “deep cleansers” (cosmetic people don’t be angry with me, please).
Moisturise very well. A lot of creams are on the market promising people of magic they will perform on their skins. Be careful with what is written on labels. You don’t have to break the bank to look supple this season. Forget the very expensive labels that promise you they can make your skin look like Cleopatra’s this harmattan. Most of their producers don’t know what our harmattans are like.
So, here is my suggestion. Use mild soap and ensure that you washed out the soap suds very well. Go for the cream you’ve been using, there’s no need to change it. Only thing here is, add olive oil to your skincare products and you’re good to go. Yes, look for original olive oil and use it together with your cream and scaly skin will be a thing of the past. Some people use Vaseline but I can’t tell how your skin can handle the wax and mineral oil.
Remember to carry a little bottle of moisturiser around because you never can tell when you might need it.
Take care of cracks and broken skins. The soles of your feet are broken, your lips are cracked, even your nostrils have dried out; these shouldn’t be great problems. For your feet, buy a metal foot scraper they sell about #300 and keep it in your bathroom (forget pumice stones during this season). While taking your bath, soap your feet and use the scraper to remove as much dead skin as you can from your feet. Scrub every part of your sole (not just the heels), but be careful so you don’t hurt the soft skins surrounding them. Do this every morning and night and you will wave bye-bye to those cracks within two weeks. Continue with this routine all through the season.
For cracked lips, use Vaseline or olive oil on your lips during the day and before going to bed at night. Never leave your lips unprotected during this season. If you used lipstick during the day, remember to wash it out in the night. And please, avoid cheap harmful cosmetics.
Managing cracked nostrils is not easy, especially with the pains that accompany the cracks. But the easiest way to do this is to maintain some level of humidity in your home and office environment. This is why you need to keep the dry air at bay by closing your windows and using heavier curtains. Some people apply Vaseline into their nostril to help with the dryness, maybe you can try that too. And if the dry air is unbearable that it’s hard breathing it in, try covering your nostril with a nose mask – you can buy one or improvise with your hanky.
Protect your hair. The only way to protect your hair this season is by not combing it. So long as comb passes through your hair during this harmattan, you are bound to experience hair loss. So, go for cornrows, braids, or any other thing that will keep your hair out of the comb’s way until the harmattan is over.
Wear more of shoes than sandals. Apart from keeping the feet warm and moist, it is easier to clean off dust from shoes than from feet.
So keep yourself looking glossy this harmattan and don’t let the harsh weather stand in your way.