Why Is My Skin Scaly?

Why Is My Skin Scaly?

Introduction

Scaly skin is a common side effect of dry skin and can manifest in flaky skin all over the body, dry patches that feel rough and leathery. Dry skin can be quite easily remedied with some good moisturizer, as it is likely due to a lack of oil. It is also largely genetic so if you have dry skin you probably have an on-going skincare regimen to add extra moisture to your skin to ensure it stays soft and supple. 

People with dry skin often lack oil and lipids, not just on their faces but likely all over the body as well. Dry skin is genetic and depends very much on the oil glands in your skin. The skin all over the body has a dry and flaky look, and some other common issues you might see is a scaly appearance, white flakes of dry skin, some form of redness and irritation, and even other skin conditions like eczema. It can be especially irritating if it occurs on the face, as putting on makeup can be greatly affected by flaking, dry skin. However, if you see that your dry, scaly patches are not going away, it might be due to other causes and not just because your skin is dry. 

One other potential cause is the cell renewal process. The skin has a natural, ongoing shedding process to remove old skin cells and replace them with fresh new ones. The body sheds approximately 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every day and new ones rise up to the top. This process is a natural one that we do not feel, and neither do we see the dead skin cells flake off. The epidermal cells are arranged akin to the tiles on a roof and are held together by a “glue” made of lipids (fats), which is what keeps the skin cells nice and flat, making them smooth and neat. The epidermis also has a mixture of dead skin cells and natural oils that collect water, giving your skin the hydration and moisture that it needs. When this glue that holds them together gets loosened, this causes the water in the skin cells to escape, hence causing a drop in moisture levels and hence the aforementioned dryness of the skin. However, scaly skin can also be due to many other reasons and you might want to get it checked if it does not go away.

Reasons for Dry Skin

Here are some other reasons why your skin might be scaly, apart from it being merely dry:

 

1. Eczema

 

If you have red, scaly patches that are very itchy, it might be eczema. Eczema is commonly mistaken for dry and sensitive skin when it occurs on the chin and cheeks. You can also get it on the hands and other parts of the body. Although it mostly affects children, adults can also get eczema from allergic reactions to things in the surroundings such as soaps, fragrances, makeup products, chlorine in swimming pools, and many other things. If your skin is red and irritated and starts to crust, and you itch a lot, you probably have eczema. Head to a doctor to get medicine and antihistamines to calm the redness down.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis comes in the form of silvery, white scales over thick red, raised patches of skin. Psoriasis is probably the effect of a compromised immune system, in which new skin cells emerge at a faster rate than normal, but the old skin cells do not shed. This causes clumping of the new and old skin cells and results in thick, itchy patches, red sores, and scaly skin. There are many different types of psoriasis, but the most common type is plaque psoriasis. The patches of redness and scaliness show up on the knees, elbows, palms, and lower back. It can be genetic and inherited or can also be exacerbated by smoking. 

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This is a skin disorder that is also the cause of dandruff. It is more serious than just dandruff, however, and your scalp and surrounding areas of skin will have a greasy, itchy feeling. You might also notice you have white crusty scales on the scalp and experience flaking all over.  

Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition that mostly affects women and young girls aged between 10 to 35. You can tell by a single rose-colored spot known as a herald patch. It shows up on the torso and limbs. You might experience clusters of scaly skin patches a few weeks later, and the round spots will be raised. It is thought that infections like herpesvirus 6,7 and 8 cause the rash and it can be easily mistaken for ringworms. There are side effects from pityriasis rosea such as fatigue and headaches. 

Dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory disorder that affects mostly women. It manifests in the form of a reddish-purple rash that has a scaly look and can cause weakness in the muscles. It doesn’t affect a particular age group and results in swelling of the blood vessels that are linked to the muscles and skin. Some common symptoms include rashes on the face on the eyelids, nose, and cheeks, while on the body it will appear on the knees, elbows, chest, and back. You might also experience muscle aches and pain, although this is a lot less common. 

Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is a genetic disease that causes scaly skin and it mostly appears in children. It is caused by a genetic dysfunction that causes the skin cells to build up aggressively on the surface. The build-up of skin cells results in these thick, dry patches of skin that resemble the look of fish scales. There are several forms of the disease and it might not go detected if it is a mild case. If you regularly moisturize, ichthyosis might not appear to the normal eye.

Conclusion

If you suspect you have any of the above conditions, it is best to go see a doctor and get it checked. Scaly skin might just be a result of your dry skin, but if it begins to itch and you see raised patches, that is probably a sign that you should get it checked by a doctor who can diagnose you with the correct medication.

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