Winter’s here and it’s time to dig out the sweaters and stock up on soup and hot chocolate. Use these tips from Dr Virender Kumar, Paediatrician and Senior Consultant, at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute to help your child relish the season by staying warm and safe.
Woes of winter
What makes us all so prone to flu in winter? Research points to a combination of factors. If we are ill-protected, our body loses heat, becomes weak and hence is more prone to infections. Some researchers even attribute lack of sunshine to the lowered immune system.
The flu virus thrives more in winter as compared to summer. While there is little you can do to stop the flu, the following measures can help your child stay cosy and healthy:
Beating the cold weather
- Remember to cover your child’s chest and head. This will help your child stay warm. It is important to do this since studies have revealed that we lose 30% of our body heat through our head.
- Help your child stay active during winter. After all, physical activity increases the number of fighter cells in your child’s body.
- Ensure your child gets plenty of sleep. Good sleep can increase body’s response to infections.
- Maintain a rich and nutritious diet. Food rich in Vitamin C, like oranges, gooseberries and kiwi are known to build immunity.
- Teach your little one the habit of hand washing. However, refrain them from doing so too often, as it can dry their hand out and also lower their immunity to bacteria.
- Ensure your child drinks plenty of water, as it keeps the kidney healthy and also flushes out all toxins.
- Whenever possible, keep your child away from those suffering from common cold, cough and viral infection. The contagious virus can stay viable for up to 7 days after the symptoms have died down.
- Apart from protecting your child from infectious diseases, you should also watch out for other winter malaises like dry skin, chapped lips and achy fingers and toes.
Foot care during winter
- Pamper your child’s feet a little. Use an essential oil in the bath water. Peppermint or neem oil can soothe aching feet, while rosemary oil can warm up cold feet and increase circulation.
- Dead cells tend to accumulate during winter. Instead of pumice stone, use a scrubber for your child’s delicate skin.
- Apply moisturiser to keep dry heels at bay. Make sure that kids wear cotton socks overnight, after applying moisturiser.
Ears need attention
- Keep your child’s ears covered during winter. Make her wear a scarf to ward off frostbite!
- Moisturise the lobes of your little one’s ears to avoid painful chapping.
Overall body care
- Ensure your child wears gloves when he steps out, as the skin on the hand is thinner than the rest of the body.
- If you use a heater in your child’s room, keep a bowl of water in the room to safeguard his skin from drying out.
- Do not let your child shower in extremely hot water. Excess heat can dry his skin. Soaking for too long can strip the tender skin of essential oils too.
- If your child’s skin is dry and itchy, add some oatmeal or baking soda to his bath water.
With these simple tips you can keep your child heathy and happy this winter season. For, the only warmth known to parents’ hearts is the sight of the little bundle bubbling with joy, all safe and snug!
Winter myths busted
Myth #1: You should not have curd during winter
Fact: It is a very common misconception that eating curd during winter can make you sick. The fact is that curd contains probiotics and bacteria, which are extremely helpful in building a strong immune system.
Myth #2: Being outside for long can give you a common cold.
Fact: It should be remembered that virus and bacteria are the main causes of viral infections. When it comes to common cold, germs are the root cause and not the cold weather itself. It is only when you come in contact with a flu virus, you will catch cold. That could happen outside or even when you are indoors. Having said that, cold winds could lead to certain types of illnesses. An NIH study conducted in the US suggests that dry winter air allows the flu virus to thrive, survive and transmit. Therefore, it is a good idea not to spend too much time outdoors during winter.
Myth #3: Covering the head during winter is enough to keep you warm
Fact: Yes, it is true that we lose more heat through our head. But, you do not lose heat through the head alone. The body as a whole needs protection from the winter.
Myth #4: There is no need to use sunscreen in winter
Fact: Sunscreen is not only an anti-tan cream but also a shield against the harmful sun rays. Ironically, the sun is closest to the earth during winter. Cold temperatures tend to leave the skin really dry and that gives the harmful UV rays easy access to your skin. So, go ahead and smear it up during winter.
Additional inputs from Dr Arvind Aggarwal, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Delhi.