Winter Health and Wellness: dry skin and hair

General Health

Could your dry skin and hair be a sign of an underlying health condition?

13/12/2017


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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During the winter months, we are more susceptible to colds and flu; we can suffer from dry skin and hair, we experience more aches and pains, and our moods can darken just like the days. To brighten those dark winter days, throughout December, Medichecks weekly winter health series will be focusing on a particular winter ailment and offering advice to try and make those winter blues a little easier. This week we are concentrating on and explaining why the winter months can cause many of us to suffer from dry skin and hair. 

Why does winter cause many of us to suffer from dry skin and hair?  

Dry skin is usually a mild, temporary condition that can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Tight skin, itching and flaking are all symptoms of dry skin, and the cold air we experience in winter can make it even worse. Dry skin can sometimes be a side effect of certain medications. Basic steps to avoid dry skin include using gentle, unscented skin care products, moisturise your skin daily and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day. 

The lack of humidity during winter is often the main culprit when it comes to dry, dull and lifeless hair. This isn’t really something that we can change so during the cold months it is useful to use a moisturising hair treatment at least once a week, limit hair washing to a minimum to avoid stripping the hair’s natural oils and where possible let hair air dry to avoid heat damage.

Is the cold weather the only reason for dry skin and hair?

It is normal during the winter months to experience dry skin and brittle hair, but for some people, the cold weather is not the cause of the problem and an underlying health condition may well be the reason for the changes. With dry skin and coarse hair being very general symptoms related to many different conditions, here at Medichecks, we realise how difficult it can be to pinpoint the cause, so we have listed 3 possible reasons below.

1. An underactive thyroid 

It is easy to see how an underactive thyroid might be overlooked in the winter months: you struggle to keep warm; you put on weight; you feel tired and lethargic, and yes, your skin and hair are dry. A simple Medichecks thyroid check blood test is the ideal way to see whether your thyroid is functioning normally, or whether your symptoms are due to an underactive thyroid. The condition is especially common amongst women, affecting almost 3% of the population, so don’t just blame your symptoms on the cold weather check your thyroid for peace of mind. 

2. The menopause 

As women enter the menopause and oestrogen production begins to decline, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and periods come to an end. As well as being an important sex hormone, oestrogen stimulates the formation of collagen and oils. Collagen is a protein that helps the skin to stay smooth. Low collagen levels lead to the development of wrinkles. The decline in oil production reduces the moisture that the body can retain, resulting in dry and itchy skin. Oestrogen also helps hair to grow long and healthy. That's why, as the menopause approaches and oestrogen production is reduced, dull hair and itchy skin occurs in many women. So, if you are experiencing any other symptoms of the menopause such as weight gain, mood changes or trouble sleeping, Medichecks menopause check is perfect to see if the menopause could be to blame for your dry skin and hair. 

3. A mineral/vitamin deficiency

In the body, minerals are vital for many different functions including building strong bones and teeth, keeping our skin and hair healthy and transmitting nerve impulses. Dull, brittle hair, hair loss and dry skin are all symptoms of a zinc deficiency. In many people suffering from eczema, a zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Zinc is essential for healthy cell division, so hair and nails that are constantly growing need a rich zinc supply to grow strong and healthy. Zinc can be found in oysters, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds and nuts. 

Magnesium is also important for the maintenance and growth of healthy hair and nails as it helps the body to absorb calcium. Bananas, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts are all good sources of magnesium. Medichecks offers tests to check your zinc and magnesium levels, making it easy to see if a mineral deficiency could be to blame for your dry skin and hair. 

Order your tests today!

Although in the grand scheme of things, experiencing dry skin and hair is not the biggest of problems, it is irritating and can affect many people’s confidence and self-esteem. Medichecks simple blood testing kits helps you explore the possible reasons for your dry skin and hair, allowing you to be proactive in the steps you take to improve symptoms.


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