Why You Have an Itchy, Flaky Scalp in Winter
Don’t let an itchy, flaky scalp hold you back from enjoying this winter. Here’s why your scalp is dry and what you can do to prevent it.
Jump to a section
Fond of walking in a winter wonderland? Unfortunately, your skin pays the price.
And while you give your face the most attention, it’s time to pay attention to other areas of your skin too. Like your scalp.
Are you prone to an itchy, flaky scalp in winter? Here’s why that happens and what you can do to prevent it.
What is Dry Scalp?
You get dry scalp in exactly the same way you get dry skin anywhere else: your skin has too little moisture. As a result, the skin becomes irritated and dried up, and the dead skin flakes off.
Dry scalp should not be confused with dandruff–the two look similar, but they are different underlying conditions. Dry scalp is when your scalp doesn’t get enough moisture, the skin becomes irritated, and the skin then flakes off. Dandruff is actually caused by too much oil in your scalp, usually caused by seborrheic dermatitis, which causes excess skin cells to build up and shed.
Why Your Scalp Gets Itchy in Winter
Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why your scalp may become itchy and dry in the winter. Here are the most common ones.
Cold, Dry Winter Air
The single most common cause of a dry, itchy scalp is simply the environment.
In most climates, winter translates into cooler, drier air. During the summer, your skin has an easier time maintaining moisture because of all the extra humidity in the air. But in winter, when the air is drier, your skin actually loses moisture to the air and has to work much harder.
This is worsened by the system shock attached to colder air. Your skin’s job is to maintain homeostasis, and it’s harder for your skin to achieve that if it’s flipping back and forth between cold outdoor air and warm rooms.
Unfortunately, our efforts to protect our head and face from the weather also wreak havoc on our scalp.
When you cover up in the winter (with a winter hat, for instance), you keep your head warm, but you also create a warm, moist environment for bacteria to flourish. This can even happen outside, thanks to hot breath getting trapped in masks and winter scarves. And once you heat up indoors before taking your hat off, the moisture effect gets worse.
Hot Showers and Dry Indoor Heating
There’s nothing quite like a hot shower to wake you up on a cool morning, or a hot bath to warm your bones after a long day in the snow. Unfortunately, your scalp doesn’t agree.
Hot water can actually dry out and irritate your skin. It strips your skin of oils that were already scarce due to cold air, and it prevents your skin from locking in moisture. Once you step out of the shower, the effect gets worse thanks to a dry, warm environment cultivated by central heating.
The result? A dry, itchy scalp.
Bad Haircare Habits
Last but not least are bad haircare habits–or at least, failing to update your winter haircare routine to reflect the season. This usually comes down to two cardinal sins: excessive blow-drying and aggressive shampoos.
We’re often told that going through winter with wet hair is bad for us. Unfortunately, blow-drying is terrible for your hair–it exposes your hair and scalp to intense heat, worsening the moisture loss you already experienced in the shower. And if you used the same shampoo you used in summer, your skin is already dry and irritated.
Minimizing Itchy, Flaky Scalp in Winter
Looking to minimize itchy, flaky scalp in winter? While you can’t change the weather, there are certainly ways to give your scalp a leg up.
One of the best options it to invest in a gentle shampoo that cleanses and moisturizes without being too abrasive. That way, you can minimize skin irritation associated with the shampoo you use to tackle summer oiliness and give your skin a moisture boost.
Pair your shampoo with lukewarm showers–at least, as lukewarm as you can tolerate. The milder the temperature, the less likely it is to cause skin irritation. You should also aim to be in and out of the shower relatively quickly, minimizing how much water leeches out of your skin in the process.
Keeping Your Scalp Healthy All Season Long
The weather shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying yourself, and an itchy scalp shouldn’t be the thing that holds you back this season. So if you’re fighting with a dry, itchy scalp, it’s time to invest in a shampoo that works for you.
That’s where we come in, with gentle shampoos formulated to protect dry, itchy scalps. You get clinical cleanliness paired with gentle cleansing and moisturizing so that your scalp feels its very best. Make sure to check out our shop to find the perfect match for you.