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Can Air Conditioning Cause Dry Scalp?

Written by Robbie Salter
Can Air Conditioning Cause Dry Scalp?

The cool blast of an air conditioner in summer gives us that feel-good relief from the scorching summer heat. Most of us rely on an air conditioner in our homes and offices during the warm summer months to stay cool, but we never stop to think whether it has any negative effects on our skin and scalp.  Ever notice a dry scalp in summer? It may be the result of too much time in the A/C. Here, we discuss the possible effects that prolonged exposure to air conditioning can have on our scalp and what we can do about it. 

How does air conditioning cause a dry scalp? 

While we can all appreciate air conditioners during summer, they can do a number on our skin and hair. Any kind of extreme temperature or climate can potentially damage the hair, cause dryness or itchiness, and stress the scalp, so installing an air conditioner inside a small room is like installing a dry, cold desert right in your home and can wreak havoc on your hair and scalp. 

Effects of air conditioners

So how does it all work? First, an A/C dehumidifies the air around us by swapping the hot air with the cool air, sucking out the essential moisture, and substituting it with cool, dry air. The removal of moisture from the air can lead to our hair and skin becoming dry and damaged, which is why those who spend their time in air-conditioned rooms may notice that their skin and scalp feel dry, tight, or itchy, and may notice white flakes. 

When we leave an air-conditioned room and return to the heat and humidity of the outdoors, our skin, hair, and scalp are greeted with abrupt changes which can make it difficult for the skin and scalp to maintain balance.

Other side effects that a lack of moisture can potentially cause are unwanted skin disorders, premature aging, dullness, and even skin degeneration. Dry scalp from air conditioners can also be damaging to our hair, making it dull and dry.

Other causes of dry scalp and dandruff

We know that a dry scalp can be caused by dormant, under-active oil glands that aren’t able to naturally produce the required oils for your skin, however, there may also be other causes such as: 

  • Using shampoos that contain harsh chemicals or ingredients like sulfates that are overdrying

  • Eating food that lacks important nutrients 

  • Exposure to extreme cold or dry weather conditions

  • Excessive use of styling products such as sprays, gels, mousses, dry shampoos, and heat tools like curling irons

  • Not using conditioner enough (or at all) after cleansing with shampoo

  • Using multiple hair products that contain alcohol which dries out hair

  • Allergic reactions to a number of common skincare and hair care ingredients including tea tree oil, coal tar, selenium sulfide, jojoba oil, or witch hazel. While these topical ingredients can be helpful for dry hair and are often found in hair masks, there is always the possibility that an unknown allergy is contributing to your scalp dryness

Dandruff flakes are dead skin cells that can be the result of a range of skin conditions (both personal and environmental).  Below are some of the most common conditions you should know about - however, a general rule of thumb is that if you have other symptoms in addition to dry skin and a flaky scalp, it’s always a good idea to talk to your dermatologist. These conditions include:

  • Dry scalp

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis - a chronic type of eczema, the cause of SD is thought to be a fungus that feeds off the oil produced by your sebaceous glands called Malassezia.

  • Contact dermatitis - a blanket term for the itchy rash that results when you come into contact with something that you’re allergic to. 

  • Scalp Pruritus - simply an itchy scalp. It can be caused by scalp psoriasis and other conditions, or in response to ingredients in your shampoo or hair care products.

  • Tinea Capitis - commonly known as ‘ringworm of the scalp,’ is a fungal condition that causes flaking and an itchy scalp.

While we can all appreciate air conditioners during summer, they can do a number on our skin and hair.

What you can do to prevent a dry scalp and dandruff

While sitting in front of the air conditioner for hours may jeopardize the health of your hair and scalp, there are some practical remedies that you can take to combat its effects. Here are some proven and tested ways to get your scalp back on track:

  • Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, make sure you’re drinking the recommended amount of water

  • Use a shampoo scientifically formulated with Zinc Pyrithione to fight flakes and maintain the balance of oil production on your scalp

  • Always follow shampooing your hair with a hydrating conditioner to keep your scalp moisturized and your hair nourished

  • Try a cool water rinse of your scalp at the end of your shower as hot water can have a drying effect 

  • Avoid styling products that contain alcohol and synthetic fragrances. Also try to cut back on using hair sprays, gels, and mousses as they can also dry the hair and scalp. Instead, choose products that contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera

  • Try to avoid blow-drying your hair, and cut down on the use of heat tools like curling irons

  • Exfoliate your scalp regularly with a scalp brush or an exfoliating product to remove dry flakes

  • Protect your scalp and hair from sun damage by seeking out shade, wearing a hat, and applying SPF to your scalp

How to get rid of itching and flaking for good

When you are looking to ditch the itch associated with dry scalp and dandruff, Jupiter offers scientifically-formulated and dermatologically-tested dandruff and scalp care products to do just that. Try our Balancing Shampoo formulated with Zinc Pyrithione for the easiest and fastest way to fight flakes. Scientifically-formulated to be paired with the moisturizing and soothing ingredients in our Nourishing Conditioner, your scalp will remain hydrated and flake-free. Learn more here. 

Oil Control + Exfoliation Set
Oil Control + Exfoliation Set

Built for those looking to address constant or moderate to severe flaking, redness, or irritation and want their mane left looking refreshed and silky smooth.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have about the information contained herein, as well as the risks or benefits of any treatment.