Why Your Fan Could Be Causing Congestion & Dry Skin
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Why Your Fan Could Be Causing Congestion & Dry Skin

Jun 21, 2023

You'd think waking up with dry skin and a stuffy nose would be reserved for dry winter climates, but that's not always the case. In fact, there's a surprising reason your winter woes could happen year-round. The sneaky cause: sleeping next to a fan or AC unit. Prepare to be blown away (pun intended).

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As traditional Chinese medicine expert, acupuncturist, and founder of Lanshin Sandra Lanshin Chiu, L.Ac., explained in a recent Instagram post, "Sleeping with a steady stream of wind directly blowing at your head is a TCM horror show."

Why so? As Chiu notes in the post, that stream of air can cause a host of problems, including headaches, stiff neck, facial palsy, cold and flu, dry skin, and, yes, sinus congestion.

If you don't notice anything off with your sinuses or skin health, it's probably not a problem; but she notes that anyone who frequently gets colds or flu, like children and elderly folks, should be even more vigilant.

One concern for many people with dry skin is transepidermal water loss (TWEL)1, or losing moisture in your skin.

When this happens, it can lead to compromised skin barrier function, which has a domino effect and may cause redness, texture, dullness, accentuated wrinkles, and even breakouts. And guess what? TWEL occurs more overnight, as your skin is more permeable 2while you snooze.

Not everyone can simply turn their fan off at night without entering a full-blown heat panic at 4 a.m. Instead, Chiu simply suggests pointing your fan or AC unit in a different direction, away from your head and body.

This way, the air can still circulate without wreaking havoc on your skin and sinuses.

If your fan or AC unit is not movable, consider adjusting your bed placement in your room or even where you lay your head to avoid direct wind on your face.

As for skin health, you'll want to double down on hydrating efforts when using a fan or AC unit to protect your skin from TEWL. Below, a few suggestions:

Waking up with dry skin and a stuffy nose could be caused by an AC unit or fan blowing directly on your face. To avoid this discomfort, point your fan away from your body or move your bed to avoid the direct breeze. Here, more ways to keep your skin optimally hydrated all year long.

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Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.

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