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Wash your step

The monsoon is the best of times. But it could become the worst of times. Take care of yourself this season.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 30, 2011 20:10 IST
Nikita Arora

There was a time when we would dash into the open at the first sign of the first showers. But these days in the monsoon, everyone’s more likely to run for cover, especially since all the season seems to bring with it is a rash of health problems – whether it’s viral infections, serious ailments like typhoid, cholera, malaria, jaundice and food poisoning, or a clutch of skin and hair complaints.



According to health experts, the rainy season can result in a weakening of the immune system and any unhealthy eating practices at this time can lead to disorders such as dysentery, indigestion, vomiting and food poisoning. Other ailments such as viral infections and colds and coughs are also common. But these are things we know we should take to a doctor. What about the things we ignore?

Skincare

Rainwater is said to be acidic in nature, which means that it’s definitely a no-no for healthy skin. Therefore, the thumb rule to maintain your skin in this season should be the maintenance of extreme cleanliness. If you’re caught in a shower, wash off the rainwater as soon as possible.

Dr Deepali Bhardwaj, a dermatologist at Apollo Clinics, Rockland Hospitals, explains, “Normally we have an acid mantle that protects our skin from bacterial and fungal infections. The disruption of this acid mantle results in an accumulation of fungi and yeast, leading to infections.” She adds, “To stay healthy, take small precautions such as washing your hands and feet regularly, especially after getting them wet in rainy water and muck. You can add anti-fungal powders if you wear socks during office hours. Also sprinkle anti-fungal powder between your fingers and under the breasts.”

Dr Bhardwaj also advises pouring a few capfuls of Betadine as a disinfectant to the last few mugs when taking your bath. She cautions, “If you do develop an infection, see a dermatologist right away.”

Even if you don’t fall prey to an infection, there’s still a lot you need to do to take care of your skin this season. Wash your face regularly with a moisturising face wash (if you have normal or combination skin), and with a non-moisturising face wash for oily skin. You can also carry wet wipes to clean your face and skin repeatedly, but make sure they are not alcohol-based or else they will make your skin dry and sensitive.

Also, remember to exfoliate your skin – either get a lactic acid peel done by a dermatologist or do it yourself at home using a fruit-based scrub, depending on your skin type, at least twice a week.Remember to keep drinking your regular quota of water to wash away toxins and hydrate the body. In the same vein, continue to use your sunscreen, even when the sun disappears behind dark rain clouds for a couple of days.

Before you layer on the war paint, remember that clogged pores in this season can lead to you developing blackheads and whiteheads. So start your makeup session with a waterproof base, compact or light mousse and a coat of oil-free SPF 15 or 30 (according to your skin type) as a base under it. Make sure to remove makeup with a toner at night, and then moisturise again. Also make sure your eyebrows are done correctly as an eye pencil can run thanks to rain.

Your hair needs special attention in the rainy season, more than just holding up an umbrella to ward off the rain. Wash your hair regularly, and immediately if it gets wet, as rainwater can damage not just the hair cuticle but also the scalp. Also, remember that the humid atmosphere can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi on the scalp, resulting in painful pus-filled boils and itchy dandruff, another reason why you should keep your hair clean and dry. To avoid dandruff, use a medicated anti-dandruff shampoo at least once a week. Finally, avoid brushing and using a hairdryer in this weather and stick to a wide-toothed comb.

Apart from all these cosmetic treatments, you also need to stick to a healthy and well-balanced diet to stay on top in this weather. Pick foods richer in beta-carotenes and vitamins C and E. Also take the recommended dose of selenium and zinc for their antioxidant effects which fight free radicals and help you to continue your love affair with your skin. Says Dr Navin Taneja of The National Skin Centre, “Aloe vera is also beneficial for skin diseases caused by rain as it purifies the blood. Fresh aloe vera gel can be taken in the dose of 2 or 3 tablespoons on an empty stomach every day.”

From HT Brunch, July 31

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