Scaly skin is also known as scaling skin, dropping of scales, desquamation, flaking skin, or peeling skin. Each day about 30,000 to 40,000skincells are shed from the outer layer of our skin, called the epidermis each day, which are then replaced by the new ones. Under normal circumstances, one cannot notice this falling or flaking of skin cells. When anything wrong happens to this skin cell renewal process or if the outer layer of the skin that contains natural oils gets damaged, one gets flaky or scaly skin. Face, hands and legs are the commonly affected areas.
CAUSES OF SCALY SKIN
Scaly or dry and cracked skin is the symptom of many medical conditions which includes the following:-
- Contact Dermatitis- It develops on coming in contact with an allergen or irritant such as wool, soap, cosmetics, chlorine, latex, etc. and typically occurs on exposed parts such as hands, arms, face, neck, legs and feet. Symptoms of contact dermatitis are dry, flaky skin with redness, swelling, itching, or burning of the affected area and blisters with oozing.
- Psoriasis – It is an autoimmune condition that usually affects elbows, knees, lower back, scalp, palms and soles. Symptoms of psoriasis are thick, scaly red or silvery patches of skin with itching.
- Eczema- It is more common among children and adolescents. Symptoms include yellow or white scaly patches and red, itchy, oily, or greasy affected areas with hair loss from them.
- Allergic eczema- It resembles a burn and is commonly found on forearms and hands. Symptoms include itchy, red, or raw and scaly skin with blisters that ooze and become crusty.
- Actinic keratosis- It is found on sun-exposed parts of the body such as hands, arms, face, neck and scalp. Symptoms include less than 2cm thick, scaly or crusty skin patch, usually pink in color.
- Allergic reaction- In this, itchy and raised welts appear when the immune system reacts to allergens on the skin. Symptoms include a red and itchy rash, which may be associated with swelling and difficulty breathing, causing a medical emergency.
- Athlete’s foot- It includes itching or burning between the toes with blisters on the feet and discolored thick and crumbly toenails.
- Ringworm- It includes circular-shaped itchy rashes such that the skin in the middle appears clear and the edges of the ring spread outwards.
- Ichthyosis Vulgaris – This is a genetic or acquired, extremely dry skin condition where the skin doesn’t shed the dead skin cells, causing polygon-shaped brown, grey or white scales to accumulate in patches on the surface, typically on elbows and lower legs.
- Seborrheic eczema- In this yellow or white, color scales appear on the areas where the sebaceous or oil glands are in abundance. Symptoms include red, itchy and oily patches with hair loss from affected areas.
- Drug allergy- In this, mildly itchy and red rashes may occur days to weeks after taking the drug, with other symptoms like fever, stomach upsets and tiny red or purple dots on the skin.
- Stasis dermatitis – It occurs in areas of the body that have poor blood supply, such as feet and lower legs. It is associated with swelling in lower legs and ankles that get better with the elevation of feet. Symptoms include dry, crusty and itchy red sore having a shiny appearance. There may be mottling of the affected skin and varicose veins. In advanced cases, painful, irregular and shallow ulcers with crusting and weeping develop in the affected areas.
- Lichen planus- It is an inflammatory skin condition in which small, shiny, red or white, thick and itchy or painful bumps usually develop on mouth, nails, scalp, wrists, ankles, lower back and legs.
- Kawasaki’s disease- It usually affects children below 5 years of age and gets better on its own. Symptoms include red, swollen or strawberry tongue, high fever, swollen, red palms and soles of feet, bloodshot eyes and swollen lymph nodes. In rare cases, it may cause severe heart problems.
DIAGNOSIS OF SCALY SKIN
The diagnosis is made by a healthcare professional based on the appearance of skin, any history of exposure to an allergen or irritating substance as well presence of other accompanying symptoms.
MANAGEMENT OF SCALY SKIN
Scaling skin is a medical emergency in some rare cases when it is associated with a severe allergic reaction such as hives, breathlessness, swelling, nausea, vomiting, severe weakness, high fever, or severe and sudden blistering. In most cases, it is due to cold and dry weather or after prolonged exposure to the sun and can be managed by using the following steps:-
- If the scaly skin is due to some allergen, then it is advisable to avoid contact with that allergen to prevent scaly skin from reoccurring.
- Stress, smoking and scratching scaly skin can make symptoms worse, so one should avoid these factors.
- Using fragrance-free, good quality detergents for clothes and soaps for the body is advisable.
- Keeping the scaly skin well hydrated by using good quality, fragrance-free moisturizers help to improve the appearance of scaly skin.
- The affected area should be kept clean to prevent the chances of getting an infection.
- To avoid scarring of scaly skin, one should keep the affected area well moisturized, avoid scratching the skin during the day and wear mittens to avoid scratching during sleep.
HOMEOPATHY FOR SKIN
Homeopathic treatment for scaly skin is highly recommended as it is safe and effective. Best homeopathic medicine for scaly skin is the one most similar to disease manifestation and includes symptoms from both mental and physical spheres.
Common homeopathic medicines for scaly skin are:-
- ARSENIC ALBUM– It is suited for scaly skin lesions with itching and burning, which are worse from cold and scratching. It is suited to people who are fastidious and anxiety-prone, sensitive to cold and who have a frequent thirst for small sips of water.
- CICUTA VIROSA– It is suitable for skin lesions without any itching and the exudation forms into hard lemon colored crusts.
- CROTON TIGLIUM– It is suited for lesions, especially on face and genitals, with intense itching but pain on scratching.
- DOLICHOS PURIENS– It is indicated for skin lesions with intense itching, especially at night but no swelling or rash. The lesions are worse across shoulders, elbows, knees and hairy parts.
- GRAPHITES– It is suitable for skin lesions that occur in folds of the body, especially behind the ears and nipples and exude sticky, clear or yellowish fluid on scratching. In females, the lesions aggravate around their monthly period.
- PETROLEUM – It is suited for dry skin with redness, burning, itching and that cracks and bleeds easily. This eczema tends to get worse in winters.
- SULPHUR– It is suitable for dry, scaly skin with itching and burning that gets worse from scratching and washing. This itching gets worse from warmth, evening and damp weather. As a person, the patient is untidy, extroverted and enjoys a good argument. They are generally sensitive to heat and tend to have hot feet.
- RHUS VENENATA– It is indicated for skin lesions with severe itching and blistering and the only thing that relieves the itching is washing the affected part in very hot water.