Flaky scalp in winter may be making you lose your hair

Dec, 27 2019 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)

Hair Loss Treatment

Dandruff is one of the most common hair problems; some statistics suggest that almost half the adult population suffers from it. It usually starts during puberty and lasts till about 50 or even into old age. One of the most terrifying things about dandruff, apart from itchiness and discomfort, is that if people don’t treat it and don’t wash their hair frequently it will keep falling on your shoulders and show on your clothes.

Dandruff isn’t, per say, harmful or contagious, but it can be uncomfortable and cause frequent itchiness and even hair fall. It is, in fact, the constant scratching, especially in cases of severe dandruff that causes damage to the hair follicles and lead to hair loss. However, in people with pattern baldness, dandruff can increase the quantum of hair loss.

A lot of people, in fact, complain of dandruff during winter as the air gets drier and people tend to wash their hair less frequently. It can lead to hair fall. To understand how a dry, flaky skin is related to hair loss, let’s first understand what is dandruff and what causes it. It is a condition where skin cells regenerate faster than usual causing dry and flaky skin. And any condition that causes the outer layer of the scalp skin to fall faster causes dandruff.

Here are some of the reasons that can cause dandruff and hair loss:

Fungal infections
Fungal infections are superficial infections caused by fungus which are usually found in soil and animals, or human beings. Some of these can cause dandruff. A lot of people have a fungus called Malassezia on their scalp, which doesn’t usually cause any issues, but in people who have dandruff, it can intensify the condition and cause itchiness and irritation.

Folliculitis Decalvans
This is caused by inflammation in hair follicles which can stop them from producing new hair and cause hair fall and baldness. Folliculitis Decalvans is noticeable in the form of scarring, pustules, and redness. If you see these symptoms it is important to see a doctor. The condition can be easily treated using antibiotics, isotretinoin, which is a prescription form of vitamin A, and oral corticosteroids.

Lichen Planopilaris
This is not extremely common, but can occur when a person’s immune system attacks their skin cells. It can cause an itchy, dry bump or rash to develop on the scalp and cause hair fall. It can be treated using Hydroxychloroquine and retinoids. To avoid prolonging the condition which can result in hair fall, it is recommended that you consult a doctor.

Seborrheic Dermatitis
A common skin condition, Seborrheic Dermatitis can affect the oily parts of the body like parts of the face, chest, etc, but it usually occurs on the scalp. It causes a red or grayish rash or scaly skin which feels itchy. In itself it may not cause hair fall but it causes dandruff and excessive scratching can result in harm to hair follicles, leading to hair fall. It is also referred to as seborrheic eczema, dandruff, or seborrheic psoriasis. It can be treated by shampooing regularly using a medicated product but if it persists, it is best to consult a doctor.

These are the common causes related to dandruff and hair fall. In winter, however, the air temperature and dryness can disrupt the moisture balance of the skin including the scalp, causing more dry and flaky skin. A change in eating habits, or more seasonal stress or fatigue can also affect the skin and scalp and one of the results is dandruff, according to experts.

Dandruff can be easily treated at home by keeping the scalp clean, shampooing regularly and eating healthy, especially in the winter months. Keeping stress levels in check is also useful. Stress is known to affect the immune system, which in turn can have an impact on the health of your hair and skin, including causing dandruff. Getting rid of any harsh products which cause buildup and irritate the scalp will also help get rid of dandruff.

Doctors usually recommend Pyrithione zinc shampoos, which have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties; shampoos with salicylic acid; Selenium sulfide shampoos which are anti-fungal; and Ketoconazole shampoos which also work against dandruff-causing fungi.

In winter, getting some sun also helps to manage dandruff as the sun can suppress the fungi which causes dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. In the harsh cold of winter, a little more care in the form of a healthy diet, practising yoga or medication or other mindful activities to keep stress in check, exercising for a healthy immune system, go a long way in boosting the health of your scalp as well as of your body.

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