Winter is a favorite time for many people. The chill feels good, and warming under the blanket feels even more amazing.
However, many things can make the experience unsatisfactory. People get a lot of health problems during this period.
One thing that would annoy you is the dry and flaky skin, also known medically as xerosis. It may not harm your body highly but can sometimes cause discomfort or pain.
You would see a red appearance and cracks in the skin. In many cases, the area itches as well. Many people mistake it for dandruff when it occurs on the scalp due to the similarities in the symptoms. But the causes are different.
While it does happen to many throughout the year, it is during the winter season that it increases in intensity.
Indeed, there are many reasons why dry skin, and scalp, occurs. Mostly, it happens when there is no moisture and natural oil in the skin, causing it to dry up.
As for the common causes, they are as follows.
- Change in the weather
Firstly, the main reason why people get dry and flaky skin is the temperature change.
Indeed, when the winter period starts, the temperature starts dropping. And with it, so does the humidity present in the air.
The cool air during this period dries the skin on your body as well as the scalp. Plus, many people make the mistake of blow-drying their hair or blasting warm air on their bodies.
Both of these factors further causes the skin to dry up.
To have a better experience, you should start using warm water in the shower. Do not use hot water during bathing at all, or it would dry up your skin.
Also, refrain from showering for more than 5-10 minutes. Any longer than that and the natural oils present in your skin would start stripping off.
- Excessive washing
Yes, washing your hair is important to eliminate excess dirt and dust, even in winter. But, during this period, doing so every day would not help you have the long, enviably beautiful locks you desire.
So, maintain a schedule for that each week if you want to avoid having flaky skin.
For one thing, when you wash your hair too much, that removes the natural oils from the scalp.
This oil is actually necessary to keep the scalp properly hydrated. In the wintertime, your scalp is already lacking a lot of the natural oils, and shampooing too much rids that further.
After a while, your hair would dry out. And that would cause it to become too brittle and break off, too.
This occurs in your body skin, too, as too much water would further dry out your skin.
So, maintain a specified routine after asking a professional dermatologist or a stylist. If you have a particular hair type, their suggestion will help you further.
For example, if you have fine hair, you can make do with a few washes per week. Instead, if you have coarse hair, once a week is more than enough.
- Chemical exposure
Much like exposure to water, you should limit your exposure to chemicals as well.
Indeed, most of the bathing essentials contain chemical ingredients. They are not inherently harmful, but too much exposure would have a negative impact.
When people wash their hands and body with lots of hand-wash and soap respectively, the exposure is more. This, too, removes the natural oils present in the skin and also causes irritations.
Furthermore, those who swim are more exposed to chlorine. The hypochlorous acid harms the skin and causes many skin irritations.
Plus, many people have an allergic reaction to chlorine, too, as reported by the AAAAI in the U.S. In fact, 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergic conditions of many kinds.
The ones who are more at risk are the swimmers, lifeguards, and professional cleaners. Even hairdressers and nurses are more likely to get dry skin since they have to wash their hands a lot.
- Hair products and dyes
Contact dermatitis is a type of skin condition that causes flaky skin that is red and itches. The irritant type of this condition is seen in 80% of all cases.
This is a type of allergic reaction, and the main cause of that is the products used for washing. And these include soaps, shampoos, and other such items.
Similarly, dyeing the hair also causes dermatitis on the scalp. This happens because of the PPD chemical present inside the dye.
There are prevention tactics you can employ to not get this condition and to treat it.
Firstly, figure out which particular product brought the symptoms on. One by one, stop using the products you normally use for washing. After 2-4 weeks of not using a product, the scalp condition would get better.
Do not scratch at your scalp region either. This would irritate the affected hair and worsen the symptoms.
Instead, use a wet and cool washcloth and put it on your scalp for 15-30 minutes. Repeat this a few times each day; it would help lessen the itchiness.
- Wrong treatments
One of the things that often cause dry scalp and body skin is the treatments themselves.
Indeed, many people, after noticing the dry skin, try out different treatment plans.
For example, they try out things like witch hazel or rubbing alcohol to the affected area. These are usually unverified remedies and not something that most dermatologists recommend.
This is because, after the first application, the skin would start looking less flaky. The skin would look more fresh and hydrated.
However, it actually has the opposite effect and would make dry skin worse later on.
Indeed, the age of the person does affect the skin condition they possess. Therefore, if you notice dry skin during winter and you have an older age, that may be why.
Certainly, as a person grows older, the skin starts getting thinner and drier.
- Hormonal reaction
Plus, for women, dry skin sometimes occurs due to changes in their hormonal condition. The period of menopause is commonly when most women get dry skin.
Plus, younger ladies and men who have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism also notice flakes in their skin.
A person with the condition of psoriasis also notices dry skin during winter and other seasons. In this period, their immune system is not in its best condition. And it triggers an excessive multiplication of skin cells.
The multiplication occurs at a rapid rate and builds up at the skin surface. These scaly patches of skin that itches too much are called plaques.
This occurs in many parts of the skin, like the scalp, behind the neck, and the forehead. It appears on the face, feet, and hand, under the nails, back, and inside the ears on the body.
If you have a mild case of psoriasis on the scalp, doctors would recommend coal-tar-infused medicated shampoo.
But, severe scalp cases require specialized creams. Contacting the doctor first would help you. Depending on where the psoriasis is, the doctor would either prescribe a shampoo (head) or shots and drugs (body).
One of the common types of skin conditions that cause xerosis is eczema. Many people get this condition in the winter months.
However, some eczema types are not specific to changes in the weather, specifically the atopic type. This occurs in those who are prone to allergic reactions, and it is hereditary.
It is also common for younger children; 10-20% of infants are more likely to get it, according to experts.
Stress and detergent also cause types of eczema.
In the case of the latter, this occurs when you wear the clothes washed in them. After that, you would notice dry reddish flakes on the elbows, hands, and behind the knees. The signs of eczema also occur on the face.
As for stress, it certainly leads to such skin conditions, and it occurs gradually.
For treating this condition, it is best to consult a doctor. Some particular products can trigger the condition; they would tell you which to avoid. For moisturization, certain creams and emollients can help bring moisture back. Ask your dermatologist about that as well.
Truly, dandruff is not a type of xerosis, but it does occur a lot during the winter season. So, it is worth a mention.
The main cause of dandruff is a yeast-like fungus. This feeds the natural oil in the skin, and the condition is a symptom of an eczema type.
Mostly, this occurs in the areas where the oil-producing glands are present. This includes the scalp and nose region mainly.
Specific dandruff shampoos are present that would work to solve this issue. Mostly, notice if they contain ingredients like ketoconazole, coal tar, salicylic acid, etc.
Not to mention, in case this does not help, you need to talk to your dermatologist. There is a chance you have some other skin condition, and they have separate treatments.
Overall, there are many reasons why you may have dry skin in the winter. Try to use creams, moisturizing shampoos, and humidifiers in the room. For more serious cases, it is best to contact a doctor and get their opinion. Also, try to avoid self-medicating as it may make the situation worse.