Steam It Up
Need relief from the winter chill? Hitting a hot shower can help you kick colds to the curb, soothe pain, and more.
Ease a cold
Pull the plug on your stopped-up schnoz with 15 minutes of steam from your shower, recommends Stacey Tutt Gray, MD, codirector of the Sinus Center at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Shut the bathroom door and let steam build from a hot shower.) It loosens mucus, helping you breathe easier. Close the drain and add eucalyptus essential oil to relieve inflammation. Breathing in the steamy stuff soothes coughs and chest congestion too.
Adios, aches and pains
Five to 15 minutes of steam—whether from a hot shower at home or in a steam room at the gym—can increase blood flow, which alleviates overworked or stiff joints, relaxes sore muscles, and provides soothing comfort, says Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. (One caveat: If you have heart trouble, avoid steam rooms; the heat can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.)
Heal parched skin
Got dry winter skin? You don’t need an expensive moisturizing treatment from a spa. Just give your face a steam bath before applying your usual salve. (Pour hot water into a large bowl, put a towel over your head, and bend your face close to the bowl.) The warmth and moisture open pores so they can better absorb your moisturizer, says Robin Ashinoff, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.