4 Winter Myths Busted

I remember my mom telling me (as I was getting ready to go to school), that I should always wear a hat because “we lose the most body heat from our head.” I recently found myself questioning what my mom had told me.  I figured a body part is a body part, right? So why would I lose more heat from my head rather than my hands or another extremity. My doubts led me to do my own research to validate what I had heard. I not only discovered that what my mom had told me was a myth, I also learned that other similar beliefs were myths also. Here’s what I found out:

Myth 1: You lose most of your body heat from your head. FALSE
This belief was first popularized in the U.S. Army Field Manual during the 1950’s which claimed that 40% – 45% of our heat is lost from our head. Later, the British Medical Journal debunked this belief stating: our heads, just like every body part, will lose heat with exposure to cold.

Myth 2: You can catch a common cold just by being outside when the weather is cold. FALSE
Breathing in cold air on a frosty day may cause your nose to drip and the dry, cold air might trigger a cough; however, cold weather does not cause a cold. The common cold is caused by a virus that is passed from an infected person to another through respiratory droplets (for example- when someone sneezes or coughs). The best way to prevent getting a cold is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and avoid others who are sick.

Myth 3: You don’t need sunscreen in the winter. FALSE
You should use sunscreen year round. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when you plan to be outdoors. And according to the World Health Organization, “snow, sand and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect the sun’s rays.

Myth 4: Allergies go away during the winter. FALSE
During the winter months, windows are usually closed, so if you have an “indoor” allergy to dust, mold, and/or animals, you may notice your symptoms such as a stuffy noise and itchy, water eyes are actually worse.  Be sure to talk to your health care provider about your symptoms as there are medicines that can help ease your discomfort.

Don’t let these myths fool you. Winter is still considered the “cold and flu season” so take good care and stay healthy!