Staying healthy in winter is difficult enough, but dry indoor air presents a host of health challenges that can make the season even harder to get through. Low humidity can cause dry, itchy skin, painful cracked lips and cuticles, bloody noses and dry sinuses, which can make you more susceptible to sinus infections and symptoms of colds, the flu and other respiratory issues.

A portable humidifier is an important tool in your winter health arsenal, adding just the right amount of humidity to make breathing easier and skin less prone to drying and cracking. Andrea Collaro, Walgreens senior director of owned brands, and a licensed pharmacist, provides insights on humidifiers and tips on what to choose for your needs and room type.

Who should use a portable humidifier?

Humidifiers are great for anyone whose well-being is impacted by dry winter air. People who have asthma or allergies should consult with a physician first before using one.

What is an ultrasonic humidifier?

Unlike vaporizers and warm mist humidifiers that use an element to heat the water and make steam, ultrasonic humidifiers are considered a cool mist humidifier because they don’t have the heating element. Ultrasonic humidifiers generate mist through high frequency vibrations instead of a fan, making them extremely quiet and perfect to use while sleeping.

What size humidifier should I use?

The size of humidifier should align with the size of the room you’re looking to humidify. Ultrasonic humidifiers need to have an output and tank size that is enough to change the room’s humidity level, so don’t ask it to do too much or its efficiency will decrease.

Walgreens offers portable home humidifiers in Small, Medium, and Medium/Large sizes to provide just the right level of moisture to a variety of room sizes. It is recommended to look on the humidifier’s packaging for coverage of specific room sizes.

What’s the optimal humidity level for my house?

The Mayo Clinic recommends a home humidity level between 30% and 50%. Anything exceeding that level will usually result in condensation on windows, floors and other surfaces, meaning you should dial back the humidity levels until the condensation is gone.

What kind of water should I use?

Ultrasonic humidifiers can use any type of water, depending on the water quality and hardness, but water with low mineral content like distilled or demineralized water works best to prevent the buildup of scale.

What kind of maintenance is required on a portable humidifier?

Humidifiers are relatively easy to maintain, but do require some occasional care. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends the best practice of cleaning and disinfecting humidifiers every three days using hydrogen peroxide or distilled white vinegar to avoid any problems with bacteria or mold growth. And if you purchase a unit with a filter, that will need to be replaced regularly as specified in the instruction manual. Users should always follow the directions for cleaning and maintenance provided by the product manufacturer.

Why buy a humidifier now?

Dry winter air will continue for the next several months in large sections of the country, so having moist air in your home will be important. And if that’s not enough, Walgreens is offering $10 in myWalgreens cash when you spend $30 or more on cough, cold, pain and pediatrics items, with humidifiers included in those categories. Most humidifiers are available for pickup, same-day delivery or shipping to your home. And all Walgreens brand humidifiers are pharmacist recommended and come backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.