Genetics play a role in almost everything, including dry hair and skin. It is not uncommon to get eczema, thin or dry hair, and brittle, dry nails from a relative. Environmental exposure is the number one cause of dry skin, although aging can negatively affect skin and hair, according to the Mayo Clinic. Nevertheless, dry skin and hair can also be symptomatic of underlying health issues.
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Women going through perimenopause or menopause experience many changes in skin and hair. They experience a drop in estrogen and other reproductive hormones, as well as collagen, which contributes to dry skin and hair loss. With the loss of hormones, oil glands are not as inclined to produce, and skin becomes dry and wrinkled.
Excessive testosterone levels cause hair loss and unwanted hair growth on other parts of the body. It is important to discuss all symptoms with your health care practitioner in order to rule out other medical conditions.
The thyroid gland is known as the weight regulator. Hypothyroidism slows down the production of thyroid hormone, which affects the metabolism and can lead to weight gain. Women over 50 are at increased risk for hypothyroidism. Symptoms include dry skin and thin, dry, brittle hair, as well as fatigue, depression and increased sensitivity to cold temperatures.
Laboratory tests are run to determine the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. If needed, synthetic medications are prescribed in order to stimulate the thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism typically dissipate with treatment.
Before heading to the doctor, you may want to evaluate your lifestyle and the skin and hair products you use. Harsh soaps, hot water and detergents are drying because they strip water, lipids and oils from the hair and skin. Excessive blow-drying will leave the hair thirsty, too.
The skin is driest in cold weather because of reduced humidity. Sun exposure during warmer months damages collagen and elastin fibers, creating wrinkles and sagging skin. Heating and cooling your home can also reduce the humidity in the air and dry out your skin and hair.