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Scaly skin is a common symptom of dry skin and can occur anywhere on the body.  The first steps to improving dry scaly skin are to make sure you are taking the following preventative measures:

  • drink plenty of water
  • use gentle cleansers
  • take short showers or baths
  • apply moisturizers right after showers or baths
  • use a humidifier whenever the heater is on
  • avoid skin care products that contain alcohol

Most scaly skin arises from over-exposure to water, harsh soaps, normal aging or cold, dry environments. Genetics also play a huge role in how the skin manufactures special lipids that prevent water loss.

Infectious causes for scaly skin are simply an overgrowth of organisms that naturally live on the skin such as yeast, fungus, and bacteria. In some cases this can cause a rash, as well as scaly skin. Impetigo is an example of a bacterial infection. Ringworm is an example of a fungal infection.
There are a large variety of inflammatory causes as well. Scaly skin that is due to an inflammation is called dermatitis. Some inflammatory causes include:

Atopic dermatitis
—a form of skin inflammation that tends to run in families and is often seen in people with allergies, although the condition itself is most often not related to allergy.

Contact dermatitis
—caused by contact either with an allergy-provoking substance (such as perfume) or an irritant (such as poison ivy)

—chronic, nonallergic skin inflammation that can produce scaly rashes that itch

Seborrheic dermatitis
—(dandruff or cradle cap) white or yellowish scales and flaking of the scalp skin

—chronic autoimmune condition characterized by irritated areas on the skin that appear as red, itchy plaques with overlying silvery scale that can be difficult to clear.  The nails and joints may also be involved. Because psoriasis is such a frustrating and disabling condition, millions of dollars are invested annually in discovering and delivering new treatments for it. Today there are many new and exciting therapies, from simple topical creams to new injectable medicines.

If your scaly skin is persistent or causes you concern,call us for an appointment! If there are signs of infection, such as a high fever or enlargement of the lymph nodes, call 911, as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition.

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