Bright ideas for winter wellness: leave seasonal illness out in the cold

More time spent in close quarters with family and co-workers can increase the spread of germs and your likelihood of getting sick, but the following healthy habits can help you steer clear of whatever is going around:

  1. Keep hands clean. Take care to wash your hands with soap and water anytime you touch surfaces such as door handles, desks, and shopping carts. Also, do your best to avoid touching your face throughout the day.
  2. Get moving. It may be hard to remain motivated to exercise in cold weather, but physical activity can help ward off illnesses and seasonal depression.
  3. Hydrate and moisturize. Indoor heating systems can make lips, skin, and the inside of your nose a bit dry.Use hand cream and lip balm to
    soothe irritated skin and make
    sure to drink plenty of water.
  4. Lighten up. Step outside when it’s bright to get your daily dose of vitamin D, which can help enhance your immune system. If your access to daylight is limited, talk with your health care provider about taking supplements to get the benefit of this key nutrient.

Looking for a primary care physician to help your family stay healthier? Visit sacredhearteauclaire.org and choose “Provider Directory.”

WEATHERPROOF YOUR SKIN

It’s time to protect your most important layers. “In cold temperatures, blood doesn’t flow as easily, which isn’t good for the health of your skin or for any wounds you may have,” says Brian Pauley, MD, Medical Director at the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at HSHS St. Joseph’s and Sacred Heart hospitals. “So it’s important to take a few extra precautions during the winter.”

Dr. Pauley encourages his patients to keep the following tips in mind to ensure the best for their skin:

  • Bundle up. Invest in a warm jacket, hat, scarf, mittens, socks, and winter boots.
  • Minimize time outside. Getting some fresh air is a good idea, but be sure to make these trips brief, especially when temperatures are below freezing.
  • Plan ahead. Before running errands or heading to work, start your car and give it sufficient time to warm up.
  • Stop smoking. “Smoking and cold weather both decrease blood flow,” Dr. Pauley says, “so the combination really complicates proper skin care.”
  • Mind your surroundings. To avoid injury, always be aware of any slippery objects in or near your walking path. If you do end up with a new wound, clean it properly and watch for any signs of infection, including redness, drainage, swelling, or fever, Dr. Pauley says. After one week, your wound should be significantly improved; if it isn’t, visit the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine. For more acute wounds, visit the emergency department or call your primary care physician

Learn more about wound care by visiting stjoeschipfalls.org/woundcare. To make an appointment at our Eau Claire Wound Care Clinic, call 715.717.4395; for Chippewa Falls, call 715.717.7657.

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