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Q: Adjusting to high elevation, dry air ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Adjusting to high elevation, dry air
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: douglascarey-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 27 Apr 2006 08:34 PDT
Expires: 27 May 2006 08:34 PDT
Question ID: 723352
I recently moved to Denver and the air is very thin and very dry. My
lips and my eyes are dry quite often when I'm outside and it's quite
annoying. After living in such a climate for a few months, does the
body adjust by producing more moisture and oils to the skin, lips, and
eyes or am I just stuck with the conditions?
Subject: Re: Adjusting to high elevation, dry air
Answered By: denco-ga on 27 Apr 2006 13:40 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Howdy douglascarey-ga,

As the saying goes, "this too, will pass," and so should your current
irritations, according to this University of Colorado Health Sciences
Center article titled "Effects of High Altitude on Visitors."

Although aimed at a visitor to Colorado, the tips are very applicable
to a new resident of the "Mile High City" as well.

"The two main differences between the high altitude environment and
sea level are decreased oxygen delivery and decreased humidity, or
moisture content, in the surrounding air.
The initial complaints should disappear as your body adjusts to the
lowered oxygen content and dryness. This may take anywhere from a few
days to a few weeks. Upon arrival to high altitude, do not overdo.
Drink plenty of water. Eat lightly. For the first 48-72 hours, limit
alcohol. Alcohol aggravates the high altitude syndrome. Most of all
keep physical exertion to a minimum for the first day. Over-exertion
before your body can adapt to the lower oxygen and dryness can result
in more severe and persistent symptoms.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Rest appropriately and do not overdo the
first two days. Take a nap when sleepy and get a good night's sleep
after a day of hiking or sightseeing. Eat lightly and drink plenty of
liquids, but limit alcohol for the first 48 hours. You may wish to
include a good moisture crème or lotion and a bottle of artificial
tears when you pack your luggage.

As a resident of Colorado for over 25 years, I experienced the same
symptoms when I first moved here, and still do when I return from a
few weeks at low altitudes.  I just make sure I drink extra water
when I get back, get some extra rest, and it goes away in a few days.

Also keep in mind that you are going to be exposed to more rays from
the sun at high altitude, so get in the habit to putting on sunscreen
if you are going to be out and about.

If you need any clarification, please feel free to ask.

Search strategy: Personal experience.

Google search on: adapt "high altitude" dry OR dryness

Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Answer by denco-ga on 27 Apr 2006 13:41 PDT
I forgot to add: Welcome to Colorado!

Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by douglascarey-ga on 02 May 2006 19:22 PDT
Sorry for the delay. Google didn't let me know that my question had
been answered. I guess I should be a little more clear with my
question though. Is there any research or proof that shows that the
human body adapts to lower humidity by producing more moisture or oils
in order to prevent skin from cracking or being itchy? There is plenty
of research that shows how humans adapt to the altitude by producing
more red blood cells, but I've never seen anything about the body
producing more oils or moisture in order to fight off dry skin.

Clarification of Answer by denco-ga on 03 May 2006 11:37 PDT
Howdy douglascarey-ga,

There is this additional information.

First, from "DermaTopics," is this definition of dry skin.

"Dry skin in general is defined by a ... low-in-lipid skin condition ..."

This Stiefel "Skin Care" article continues the thought.

"When your skin's barrier is disrupted by ... low humidity for example, the
skin produces an increase in protective lipids to start the repair process.
Recent studies show that it takes up to 3 days for your skin to fully repair
itself. As you get older this process takes increasingly longer."

Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher
douglascarey-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00

Subject: Re: Adjusting to high elevation, dry air
From: needsomeinfo-ga on 27 Apr 2006 18:23 PDT
I've lived in Denver for almost 8 months now after coming from the
midwest.  I found that I adjusted to the thinner air pretty quickly,
but have had to switch from a lotion to a cream moisturizer and keep
about a dozen things of chapstick around within arms reach at any
given time.  So, I still struggle with the dryness that comes with the
altitude.  I have found that running a humidifer at home helps a lot
though, so I would definitely recommend one of those. So hopefully the
adjustment will come with more time.
Subject: Re: Adjusting to high elevation, dry air
From: denco-ga on 04 May 2006 17:47 PDT
Glad to be of service, douglascarey-ga, and thanks for the tip.

Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher

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