How the cold weather can accelerate hair loss – and 5 other chilling effects | The Sun

WINTER is linked to a range of health problems — including issues with your hair.

People are more likely to loose their hair in the cooler months, pharmacists warn.

Abbas Kanani, of Online Pharmacy Chemist Click, said: “Excessive hair loss in winter is largely due to the dry air outside that sucks out all the moisture from your scalp, and makes it dry.

“Dry hair and a dry scalp together can cause breakage, thinning, and hair loss.

“The scalp can become more prone to dehydration with the cold weather and dry indoor heat.”

Symptoms of a dry scalp include irritation, itchiness and flaking.

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Most people lose around 50 and 100 hairs a day without noticing.

But more serious hair loss is thought to affect around 15million Brits, according to Harley Street Hair Transplant Clinic.

Research on hair loss in winter is mixed, with one six-year study published in Dermatology showing that rates were lowest during the colder months in a group of Swiss women.

Dr Iris Rubin,a dermatologist at SEEN, told Byrdie: “There are no great scientific studies on seasonal shedding, but there are numerous reports and observations of this occurring.”

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There is some evidence suggesting low levels of vitamin D in the darker months can also contribute to the trend.

It's a good idea to review the types of hair products you're using, as well as the frequency, over the winter season

Mr Kanani said: “The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, but between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight.

“It is rarer, but hair loss from deficiency is possible.

“Deficiencies in vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, as well as iron and zinc, have been associated with hair loss.”

There are a range of indirect ways you can accelerate hair loss during the season as well.

One study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology, suggested wearing tight hats — like woolly beanies — can increase the risk of the condition.

Shampoos and other hair products can also affect our hair differently in winter, with over-washing a key driver of dry scalps.

Mr Kanani said: “It's a good idea to review the types of hair products you're using, as well as the frequency, over the winter season.

"Many of us don’t realise that our shampoo and conditioners can also cause damage to our hair as they may contain harsh ingredients. 

"What may have worked for you in summer, may now be too harsh.”

Some hair loss is temporary, while others can be permanent — like female- or male-pattern baldness.

Winter shedding is generally temporary, unless it is linked with a serious medical condition, like alopecia.

The condition affects 15 in 10,000 Brits, according to the National Institute for Care and Excellence.

Mr Kanani said: “One of the most common illnesses that we associate with hair loss is alopecia areata.  

“This is an autoimmune disorder that causes your hair to fall out in clumps. The hair falls out of your scalp and other areas of the body. 

“It can often grow back, but usually this leads to another bald patch forming on another area of your body.”

He added: “If you think that you might have symptoms of alopecia, then it is advised that you speak with your local GP.”

Five other conditions that can be accelerated by the cold weather

1) Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression linked to winter.

Symptoms include low mood, irritability, sleeping longer than normal and craving comfort foods like carbohydrates.

Experts aren’t sure what causes it exactly, but the condition is thought to be linked to reduced sunlight during the colder months.

This affects the part of the brain that makes the hormone serotonin, which regulates mood, and can also disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.

2) Respiratory infections

Viruses like colds, flu and Covid are more common in winter, when our immune systems are slightly weakened by the weather.

The infections can be difficult to tell apart, with similar symptoms including persistent coughing, a runny nose, high temperature and sore throat.

Vaccines are available for flu and Covid, with everyone over the age of 65 eligible for both jabs for free in England.

3) Norovirus

Nicknamed the “winter-vomiting bug”, norovirus is also more common during the colder months.

The unpleasant virus causes diarrhoea and nausea but symptoms usually clear up within a few days.

The NHS advises you avoid going to your GP if you have norovirus because it can spread to others very easily.

Instead phone the practice or NHS 111 for advice.

4) Strep throat

Although Strep A infections can occur at any time of the year, they are more common in winter and early spring.

The bacterial infection causes your throat to feel sore and itchy — earning the nickname “strep throat”.

It is most common in children but can occur in all ages, and experts advise you see a doctor if symptoms last longer than two days, you have swollen lymph glands, a fever or a rash.

5) Dry skin

Much like with our scalps, the crisp winter air and heating in houses can dry out our skin.

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Experts recommend using moisturisers and humidifiers indoors.

You should also avoid showering or bathing for more than 10 minutes and use lukewarm water when possible, to lower the risk of stripping away the skin’s natural oils.

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