Saturday 5 December 2015



The harmattan season is a time when those cold, dry and dusty trade winds blows over the West Africa region. The harmattan wind usually starts blowing towards late November all through into late January of the following year. At times it extends to the month of february.
The harmattan is characterized by the thick harmattan haze caused by heavy amounts of dust in the air, very low air humidity, cold temperatures which atimes fluctuates, switching back to hot temperature in the afternoon  and then drops back again to cooler temperatures depending on the time of the day.

The harmattan comes along with health risks wich includes;
  • Severe skin dehydration causing cracked lips, cracked soles of the feet and interdigital spaces of the fingers and toes along with severely dehydrated skin
  • Prescipitates respiratory conditions suchs as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, frequent cough and catarrgh.
  • The severe cold lowers body immunity leaving you more susceptible to infections and other ailments.
  • The intense dry, cold, dusty winds could trigger sickle crisis in people with sickle cell.

To help you enjoy this season and make the most of it, the following advice will prove helpful:



The harmattan season dehydrates the skin severely which can lead to painful skin cracks frequently on the lips and interdigital spaces of the fingers and toes. To help prevent this or reduce its severity do the following;

  • Apply body oils or moisturising body lotions frequently. Body oils are your best option against the harmattan as they lock in moisture and attenuate the drying effect of the harmattan on the skin. If you don't have any body oil within reach you can also use moisturizing body lotions that contain a good proportion of butters, mineral oils and vegetable oils such as shear butter, lanolin, olive oil etc. Petroleum Jelly is one of the best moisture locking agent to use in preventing moisture loss from the skin, this should be your number one choice.
  • Apply lip balm generously to prevent lip cracking. 
  • When applying your body oil or lotions, apply generous amount into the interdigital spaces of the fingers and toes.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid bathing with hot water as it strips oils out of your skin and leaves it more dehydrated, use warm water instead.


Respiratory ailments are common during the harmattan season because of the low humidity that do irritate the airways, high concentration of dust and fluctuating cold temperatures. If you are asthmatic this is a bad time for you. Common respiratory diseases seen during this time includes; Pneumonia, bronchitis, exercabation of asthma, cough, increase in allergies, general flu complaints.

To guard against these health risks, do the following:
  • Wear face masks during heavy dust laden periods of the harmattan.
  • Do not keep your body exposed to cold or drought of cold air, wear protective clothing always.
  • When cleaning your home and surroundings during the harmattan season, use wet cleaning methods. Clean up often so as to reduce the dust level in your home.
  • If you are asthmatic, keep adequate levels of your bronchodilatory drugs with you at home, at work and in your car. Never run low on stock. You can also discuss with your doctor to place you on allergy reducing medications all through the duration of the harmattan season.
  • Bath with warm water. After bath towel up immediately and quickly apply body oils so as to prevent the sudden hypothermia experienced after having a cool water bath during the harmattan. This is especially important for young children, the elderly and people suffering from asthma.


To boost your immunity during the harmattan season, you need to eat right. You have no other option. Consider the following delicacies during the harmattan season;

  • The Agbalumo ( English name is African Star apple). As if nature knew the health risks associated with the harmattan season it decided to give us the legendary Agbalumo fruit. Known by the Yoruba as "Agbalumo" and "Udara" by the igbo tribe of Nigeria the African star apple is a seasonal fruit that appears from early November all through to March of the following year. It contains powerful anti-oxidant activity which along with its many vitamins and minerals acts as a superb immune booster to fortify you against respiratory health risks seen during the harmattan. Eat generous portions of this fruit daily, all through its season.
  • At least four times weekly indulge yourself with generous servings of fruit salads created with blends of pineapple, water melons, garlic, Onions and ginger. These fruits have potent antioxidant activity. They also help protect the respiratory airways, reduce allergies and keep your immunity functioning at its best during this season.
  • Drink lots of water, clean potable water. You need it aplenty during the harmattan season.
  • Reduce consumption of foods containing white flour such as pasta, baked confectionaries and pizza's. White flour foods encourage mucus formation which is not good for people prone to respiratory health problems, most especially during the harmattan season.
  • Remember to wash all fruits before eating, keep foods covered and eat them warm. Food bourne infections are common during the harmattan due to the heavy concentration of dust in the air. 

To get help on how to protect you and your family during the harmattan send us an email at

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