Web searches for 'dry skin' reflect regional changes in weather, demographics, and housing properties

Thanks to data available from Google Trends, we are able to show the relative importance of Internet searches for the term 'dry skin' across all of the 50 states. The map below ranks the relative importance of 'dry skin' searches. For example, the state of New York is often the top ranked state for these searches because it has the highest proportion of Internet searches devoted to the search term 'dry skin'.

The key factors influencing the seasonal and geographic changes in people's interest in searching for 'dry skin' on the Internet include

  • Changes in weather

  • Age distribution of a state's population, and

  • Building properties.

Weather/Climate

In a previous blog we showed the Internet search activity for 'dry skin' across the United States for the past few years. The variations in search activity mainly represented seasonal changes in weather patterns, with the winter months exhibiting the highest searches because the levels of water vapor in outdoor air (and indoor air) are typically the lowest at this time of the year. Nevertheless, the aggregation of search activity across all states masks variations between the states. 

Age of Population

For example, as people age, their susceptibility to dry skin formation increases, and thus states with the highest proportion of residents over the age of 65 years would be expected to have higher search activity regarding 'dry skin' than states with younger populations--other factors being equal. The 5 states with the highest percentages of citizens over 65 years are

  • Florida (19%),

  • Maine (18%),

  • West Virginia (18%),

  • Vermont (17%), and

  • Pennsylvania (17%)

and the bottom 5 are

  • Alaska (9%),

  • Utah (10%),

  • Texas (11%),

  • Georgia (12%), and

  • Colorado (13%).

Even though Florida's population has the largest fraction of seniors, search activity for 'dry skin' is rarely elevated because of the state's humid climate, which reduces the magnitude of indoor drying stresses on skin. In contrast, Colorado has a very dry atmosphere, but its population is among the youngest in the US and thus the search activity for 'dry skin' is depressed.

Housing Properties

As the average age of housing in a state increases, the air exchange rate with outdoor air also tends to increase (due to air leakage across the building shell), which means that indoor humidities are more sensitive to changes in outdoor water vapor levels. The states with the largest fractions of housing built prior to 1970 are

  • New York (69%),

  • Rhode Island (63%),

  • Massachusetts (62%),

  • Pennsylvania (59%), and

  • Connecticut (58%).

The state of New York not only has old housing stock, but also has a large inventory of apartment buildings in New York City that tend to have elevated drying stresses on skin in the winter months due to low humidity levels. Pennsylvania is notable because it is in the top five category for both the age of its residents and housing. These combined factors place the residents of this state at increased risk of exhibiting dry skin and hence a greater tendency to search the Internet for this condition. 

Internet search activity for "dry skin" during the month of October, 2017. Results are normalized to the highest search popularity.

Internet search activity for "dry skin" during the month of October, 2017. Results are normalized to the highest search popularity.

Wrap Ups

  • Seasonal trends in 'dry skin' Internet searches vary across the US as function of weather conditions, age distributions among the states, and housing properties.

  • If you do a lot of business or recreational travel, be aware that where you start and end your travel will impact the drying stresses on your skin!

  • Spending the winter in Florida will result in lower drying stresses on your skin--compared to staying in the colder parts of the Midwest and Northeast.