EXCLUSIVE: How to prevent your scalp from becoming dry and itchy in the cold weather, according to an expert

Winter causes our hair and scalp to dry out due to a decrease in relative humidity in the air, leading to increased water loss from our skin and hair (transepidermal water loss, TEWL). This dryness can cause more itching and increased dandruff or dandruff (dandruff). The condition is also aggravated by the fact that the frequency of shampoo decreases as the temperature drops further, leading to the accumulation of flakes. This is why many people observe worsening dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) in winter. Seborrheic dermatitis is further aggravated by increased colonies of Malassezia fungus in winter. Few medically known conditions leading to itching and scaling are atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. These conditions usually worsen during the winter months. However, if we use certain methods, we can avoid dry and itchy scalp in winter. These are as follows:

The priority is to keep the body hydrated by drinking plenty of water regularly. Also increase your probiotics; they boost the immune system, helping the body fight fungal infections that cause dandruff or dry scalp. In addition, drink at least eight glasses of water a day to improve the health of your scalp and future hair growth.

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Regular oiling (olive oil, coconut oil) can also help reduce transepidermal water loss, but oiling generally aggravates seborrheic dermatitis, so people with this condition should avoid oiling. It is better to lubricate just before shampooing. Oils with essential oils can also help reduce dryness and itching, and these are usually not greasy.

Shampooing should be done regularly at least twice a week. Shampoos containing lauryl or Laureth sulfate provide better cleansing but also cause more dryness. If you use these shampoos, it is best to follow up with a conditioner. People with thick flakes or oily scalp should use this kind of shampoo. Shampoos containing natural oils and moisturizers such as panthenol can be used for people with normal scalp. These shampoos cause less dryness, but cleansing is also less. The use of shampoos with an optimal pH (4.5-6.0) reduces the secretion of serine proteases that can trigger scalp itching. Itching can also be reduced by using shampoos or lotions containing menthol or camphor.

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Overconsumption of heat / beauty treatments such as heated curling irons, straighteners and dryers should be avoided: hot styling products should not be applied to the scalp at all. Be sure to keep these tools away from your scalp when using them. Heat styling tools remove all the moisture from your hair and leave it dry and brittle.

Stress affects many aspects of our health and well-being. Although stress does not cause an itchy scalp, it can worsen the symptoms.

Treatment of itchy scalp starts by diagnosing the underlying condition first. Mild conditions can be tackled with the use of mild shampoos that contain steroids. Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis can be controlled with antifungal shampoos such as ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione. Contact time is important during shampooing, a contact period of at least 5 to 7 minutes is important.

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More serious conditions require the opinion of a dermatologist to treat them. If you have tried a few shampoos and still do not feel better after a week or so, consult your doctor or dermatologist.

About the author- Dr. Amrendra Kumar; Consultant Dermatologist and Hair Transplant Surgeon, Director of DermaClinix, MBBS, MD (AIIMS; Delhi); Former Senior Resident (BGB, Chandigarh); MISHRS (USA) Member of SIG (Trichology), IADVL.

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