people in the snow

Surviving the Winter Chill: How to Keep Your Skin and Scalp Hydrated and Moisturized

As the days grow shorter and the winter chill descends, many people begin to develop problems with dry skin and scalps. Combatting these conditions becomes a winter cycle, resulting in itchy, painful, and flaking skin. As these patients seek out continued treatment, it is important to learn about new developments in compounded medications.These improvements can provide relief for those who have tried multiple treatments without effective results and need specialized therapy.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin can be caused by many factors, such as chronic illnesses and certain metabolic and autoimmune disorders. Some individuals have multiple conditions with side effects, making the management of their dry skin and scalps even more challenging. Inflamed skin conditions that primarily occur during the winter months are typically a combination of factors and can be remedied with both lifestyle changes and topical creams, serums and ointments. When forming an individualized patient treatment plan, it is important to factor in the environmental impact on the skin as well as the patient’s pre-existing conditions. 

Hydration vs. Moisture

The cold air in winter is much drier than the air in warmer months, reducing the availability of natural hydration through humidity. Additionally, people are more prone to dry skin as they age, primarily due to the skin’s reduced elasticity and ability to hold moisture. Although the two terms – hydration and moisture – are often used interchangeably, they are quite different and perform different functions for the skin.To better evaluate dry skin and scalp treatments for use by patients, both mechanisms of cellular action should be considered. 

Environmental effects and age-related changes combine and result in a lack of hydration inside the skin cells, reducing plumpness and ability to absorb moisture from the air. The skin experiences symptoms of dehydration in much the same way as the rest of the body; it becomes tired, dull, and more prone to health problems. Dehydrated skin loses its vitality and bounce and needs hydrators to restore it. Hydrators are primarily water-based ingredients such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These substances, also called humectants, capture water from the atmosphere or your skin and move water from the dermis to the epidermis.

Moisturizers work differently by creating a protective layer on the skin to prevent loss of hydration and to hold in that precious moisture. They come in various forms, including emollients, oils, and butters. These are all oil-based products with ingredients like petrolatum, squalene, mineral oil, vitamin E, and plant oils. These substances seal the skin to prevent water (hydration) from escaping. Occlusives, another type of moisturizer, slow the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface and are most effective when applied to damp skin.

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Combatting Dry Skin with Compounded Medications

Dermatological treatment for dry skin and scalp is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Because of the differences in skin types, metabolism, hormonal balance, age, comorbid conditions, and lifestyles, a combined approach is often necessary. By the time a patient seeks professional help, they have most likely tried several over-the-counter products with little success. Each person’s skin reflects their uniqueness. Providers have realized that many times custom-compounded medications are needed to address each patient’s particular needs. Compounded medications are developed and produced by specialized pharmacies to treat individuals with a customized formula of ingredients, which may include moisturizers and hydrators as well as prescription medications.

How Scalp Health and Testosterone Levels Impact Hair Loss

Coinciding with the dry air of wintertime is the holiday season. This time is busy and demanding for many people, which has lately been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these stressors add up to a high risk for another dermatological malady: hair loss. Many of the same precursors to dry skin and scalp contribute to hair loss, including diabetes, age, anxiety, stress, and depression. As people age, hormonal changes also occur that can affect hair growth.

The main hormonal culprit in hair loss is fluctuating testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, which occur in both men and women. The primary class of medication used to treat testosterone imbalance is the DHT blocker. DHT is a hormone produced in the body that binds to androgens and reduces the size of hair follicles over time. The body can underproduce either DHT or testosterone, resulting in high or low testosterone levels. These incorrect levels create the imbalance that leads to hair loss and slowed regrowth. Treatment for testosterone-related hair loss depends on careful diagnosis of the problem and assessment of hormone levels.

Optimizing testosterone levels while also promoting skin and scalp health is essential to obtain the maximum patient results from hair loss treatments. Treatment of hair loss is possible thanks to active pharmaceutical ingredients like minoxidil, which stimulates hair growth, and DHT blocker medications, such as finasteride, that optimizes testosterone levels.

Using New Drug Loft Custom Base with Minoxidil

Older adults with complex skin problems, hair loss, and slow regrowth require custom treatments that can tackle multiple problems simultaneously. The medication must be delivered in a format that addresses dry, itchy skin and scalp while providing medications in the correct compounded dosages to fit individual needs. Products must be carefully formulated to protect delicate skin, preserve hydration, and effectively deliver the needed medication. Plus, they need to be non-irritating and pleasant to apply. This seems like a tall order to deliver, but with advances in compounding bases, physicians can now prescribe formulas that work across the spectrum.

The new custom compounding base for minoxidil by VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft is a next-generation solution for testosterone delivery. This treatment option was motivated by the needs of patients who have:

  • Difficulties with applying thinner solutions. The base is a thicker serum consistency and is applied with a dropper to the scalp. The serum base offers quick absorption, smooth texture, and no greasy residue.
  • Existing scalp dryness and irritation from alcohol-based formulas. Because the base contains no alcohol, it is much less drying and retains moisturizing and hydrator properties. 
  • Sensitivity to excipients like propylene glycol. The absence of alcohol means that the serum requires a minimal amount of propylene glycol. This formula allows the drug to dissolve more readily into the serum or cream and increases efficacy of the medications.

The new topical base uses a unique hydrogel polymer network along with natural enhancers to provide superior API delivery through the skin. Competitor bases and existing hydro-alcoholic surfactant solutions are found to deliver less medication and also have drying effects that are counterproductive to scalp health and treatment goals.

During testing, the new topical base delivered 2.73 times as much medication through the skin as a competitor base. Moreover, it allowed for 1.62 times as much testosterone to penetrate through the skin as the hydro-alcoholic surfactant solution.

VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft

As a 503A pharmacy specializing in sterile and non-sterile compounding, we will support you and your patients by creating safe, individualized, and effective pharmaceutical therapies. For men and women at any age, feeling healthy, confident, and comfortable is of the utmost importance. Dermatological needs may change with each life stage. As such, they require an adaptive and personalized treatment plan. By working with a trusted compounding pharmacy like VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft, you are expanding the possibilities for effective and sustainable care for your patients.


Reach out to our team to learn about best practices and to partner with our experts on custom compounded medications for your patients.

All medications from VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft are prepared in a lab that follows safety and quality standards per our status as a 503A pharmacy.



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