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Staying Well This Fall and Winter

Staying Well This Fall and Winter

The skies are dazzling blue. The farm stands are overflowing with apples and the vineyards are turning red and gold. Fall is a beautiful season here in the Bay Area, but it does come with a few health challenges — from dry skin to Seasonal Affective Disorder. These reminders should help you stay healthy in the coming months.


Be Comfortable in Your Winter Skin

A few simple changes to your daily routine can do wonders for dry, itchy skin that often accompanies the cooler seasons. Take shorter baths and showers, and use warm water rather than hot. Moisturize as soon as you dry off. Look for fragrance-free creams with non-clogging oils like avocado, primrose, almond, olive or jojoba. Avoid deodorant soaps, facial peels, alcohol-based toners and skin care products containing alcohol, fragrance, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acid. Wash your clothes with an unscented detergent that won’t irritate your skin. If your home gets really dry from central heating, consider running a humidifier.

Don’t Let the Cold Bug Catch You

Keeping the cold bug away starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle that helps support your immune system. Eat your fruits and veggies, get enough sleep and don’t forget to exercise! If you smoke, you know what to do — quit! Here are a few more tips to help protect you from viruses that make colds so common:

  • Wash your hands often — especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose — and carry hand sanitizer with you.
  • Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands. Viruses can enter your body through your nose or mouth.
  • Your purse or computer bag could be a conduit for germs! Wipe them down regularly with a damp, soapy sponge.
  • Protect others – cough or sneeze into a tissue.

Get Your Flu Shot

The flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations each year. Babies, children under the age of four, pregnant women, seniors, people with depressed immune systems and people with diabetes, heart disease or chronic lung disease are all at increased risk from flu complications. But no matter how strong and healthy you are, you can still get very sick from the flu, so protect your health by getting vaccinated today. Many pharmacies offer flu shots with no appointment needed. Find a location near you.

Stock Up on Face Masks for Fire Season

As much as we hope for a respite this fire season, it’s smart to have a face mask on hand. These masks are generally available at pharmacies and hardware stores. Your best protection is to stay indoors somewhere with a good HVAC system. But if you must go outside, here’s what you need to know about masks:

  • The only type of masks that effectively filter out dangerous particulates are labeled N95 or P100.
  • Your mask should be marked as “Certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).”
  • The mask should have two straps so it can be secured over your nose and under your chin. If you have a beard, the mask may not fit tightly enough to protect you.

Don’t Let Seasonal Affective Disorder Get You Down

If you get the blues in the wintertime, you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that starts in the late fall and early winter and goes away in the spring. Scientists suspect that a variety of factors may contribute to SAD, including problems regulating the neurotransmitter serotonin, overproducing the hormone melatonin and a deficiency in Vitamin D. If you think you may have experienced SAD in the past, talk to your doctor. A variety of approaches including medication, light therapy and psychotherapy can help.

Practice Leftover Food Safety

Many of us do more cooking and entertaining as we approach the holidays. We also gravitate towards heartier one-pot meals. To keep those tasty leftovers safe, follow a few simple rules. Your goal is to reduce the time a food is in the "danger zone" — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking.
  • If you are holding food hot, proper holding temperature is 140 degrees F.
  • Throw away all perishable foods that have been at room temperature for two hours or longer.
  • Cool food rapidly so that it reaches a safe refrigerator-storage temperature of 40 F or below.
  • Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days.
  • Label and eat frozen foods within four months of freezing.
  • Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!


This article first appeared in the November 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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