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It’s the third day of ashfall in the Calabarzon and Metro Manila regions, and it’s important now more than ever that you and your loved ones stay safe and put your health first. While more people fear the presence of lava, it’s the ash that you need to worry about. As Joseph Michalski, director of the Earth and Planetary division at the University of Hong Kong, shares with CNN, “The ash is what will kill you, not the lava,” since the ash that spews from the erupting volcano can travel hundreds of kilometers per hour.
What is in Volcanic Ash?
It’s made up of a mixture of harmful particles and gases, including carbon dioxide, sulfates or sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydroflouric acid. These are all very dangerous to the human body when inhaled.
Volcanic ash also contain particles called volcanic glass, which are basically lava that’s been cooled and broken up into pieces. The ash also may include rocks from the Taal Volcano’s exterior.
Thus, even though ash appears in powdered form, there’s actually tiny shards of glass and rocks!
To stay safe during ashfall, the World Health Organization in the Philippines insists you do the following:
- Follow evacuation procedures, if in the affected areas
- Stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, and keep windows and doors shut at all times
- Avoid areas downwind of the volcano, as well as low-lying areas
- Wear the proper respiratory masks
- Wear protective eye gear
- Make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables properly before consuming
- Drink bottled water
Learn more about health and safety measures in this Rappler article.
Skincare Tips for Ashfall
Shower immediately when you get home
After being outside, you’ll want to put your clothes directly in the laundry and shower immediately. Rinse your body completely with cold water before using any personal care products, starting with your feet first and gradually working your way up so not to shock your body.
Be gentle when washing your face and body
Your pores are going to be more clogged than usual, but using anything abrasive like chemical exfoliants and scrubs can leave your skin more vulnerable to volcanic ash damage. Instead of scrubbing down your face and body, use foaming cleansers and soaps to softly but thoroughly wash yourself. You may check out our selection of facial washes and soaps if you’re in need of a gentle cleanser.
Use a bland moisturizer
Because your skin is at risk for irritations due to ash exposure, it’s best to think of yourself of having sensitive skin. This means no harsh formulas, chemical peels, scented moisturizers, anything of that sort. Mild, hypoallergenic moisturizers are just what you need.
Use products that specifically target pollution damage
If you have any facial masks that you can wash off and are for reversing damage from pollution, by all means, use it! Other products you can use include facial sprays and SPFs that indicate they offer extra protection from environmental pollutants.
Wear protective clothing
It’s not just your face that you have to protect. Whatever part of your skin is exposed is a part that could be at risk for an irritation or infection. Wear long sleeves and pants, and avoid open-toe shoes and footwear that reveal the top of your feet. Boots are ideal.
Use the right facial mask
The N95 mask will prevent you from inhaling ash, though if you don’t have any on hand, you can still use the regular surgical mask with a wet handkerchief or a wet, thick layer of gauze to stop the ash from coming through. It might be more of a hassle, but you need to do what you can to protect your lungs as well as your face!
Symptoms to Look Out for
If you feel any of the symptoms below, don’t let your condition get worse. When left untreated, it could lead to skin burns and gastrointestinal problems, so be vigilant about your health.
The DOH warn the public to seek immediate medical attention at the closest clinic or hospital if you experience any of the following:
- Nose and throat irritation
- Bronchitis-like illness
- Any discomfort while breathing
- Eye irritation
- Minor skin problems
Remember ladies, health and safety come first! And please share this information with all your loved ones!
Sheena is the lead fashion writer here at Pretty Me Philippines and has contributed articles for numerous lifestyle blogs and online publications. Other than keeping up with the latest trends, she loves baking and home DIY projects.