How to Get Rid of Scaly Skin: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments


How to get rid of scaly skin?


how to get rid of scaly skin
How to get rid of scaly skin

What is a scaly skin?


Scaly skin is a common symptom of dry skin. It can occur anywhere on your body; however, you are more common to have scaly skin on arms and scaly legs especially in the lower legs. Irritation, inflammation and itching can increase the rate of skin cell turnover, leading to scale formation.

Scaly skin can be caused due to many conditions, but scaly skin can also result from natural processes or environments, such as cold, dry environments. Scaly skin can be seen with inflammatory conditions of the skin such as seborrheic dermatitis. This condition, which is also known as cradle cap in infants, appears white or yellowish scales and flaking of the scalp skin.

So, how to get rid of scaly skin depends on the cause of it. If your scaly skin causes you concern, seek medical care. You should also seek medical care if your scaly skin is accompanied by signs of infection, such as fever; warmth, redness or swelling; or enlargement of lymph nodes.


What are the symptoms of a scaly skin?


It’s very crucial to know and deeply realize the symptoms of scaly skin in order to know exactly how to get rid of scaly skin.

Symptoms depend on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with scaly skin

  • Redness of skin
  • Development of cracks in your skin
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Warmth


Symptoms indicating a serious condition


In some cases, scaly skin can occur with other symptoms which might indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately . Seek immediate medical care if you have scaly skin along with other serious symptoms including:

  • High fever
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Open wounds due to excessive scratching


What’s Causing Scaly Skin?


Causes of scaly skin is also important to know how to get rid of scaly skin. In this regard, scaly skin can be caused due to due to natural environments and certain washing habits. You may avoid or reduce scaly skin by simple changes in your lifestyle and environment. Some of these tips that you may follow include drinking plenty of water, applying moisturizers frequently, choosing gentle soaps, using a humidifier, and keeping the duration of baths short.

Causes of Scaly Skin Due to Natural Process


  • Normal aging
  • Dry climates
  • Indoor heating


Causes of Scaly Skin Due to Lifestyle Habits


  • Bathing in hot water
  • Showering too frequently
  • Excessive use of soap
  • Ingredients in personal care products
  • Insufficient fluid intake
  • Irritating fabrics in clothes


Causes of Scaly Skin Due to Skin Inflammation


  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis.

Causes of Scaly Skin Due to Infections


  • Bacterial infections, such as impetigo
  • Fungal infections, such as ringworm


Causes of Scaly Skin Due to Genetics


Ichthyosis is an inherited condition which results in skin that is dry, thickened, rough and scaly. This condition can be associated with other inborn abnormalities.

 Causes of scaly skin Due to Life-threatening Conditions


In some cases, scaly skin can be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately. These include rashes with high fever, enlargement of lymph nodes, and signs of deeper or widespread infection.


How to Diagnose Scaly Skin?


Before asking your self and doctor how to get rid of scaly skin, the doctor, at first, should know exactly if you are having a scaly skin or not. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will ask you several questions related to your scaly skin including:

  • How long have you had dry or scaly skin?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What are your normal washing habits?
  • Are you drinking the recommended amount of water each day?
  • Where do you experience the scaly skin?
  • What do you do to relieve your symptoms?


What Are the Complications of Scaly Skin?


Scaly skin is commonly caused by natural environments or hygiene and lifestyle habits and rarely has serious complications. But, left untreated, chronic scaly skin can result in serious complications, such as the development of eczema. Once the cause is diagnosed, it is important to follow the treatment plan that your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of complications including:

  • Open wounds or sores due to scratching
  • Cosmetic disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Spread of infection


Types of scaly skin:


1. Scaly Skin on Face

how to get rid of scaly skin

Dry skin is a very common condition in which the outer layer of skin, the stratum corneum, does not produce sufficient moisture. It is very prevalent during the winter months because of lower humidity outdoors and exposure to wind. When facial skin is dry, it can be accompanying itching, redness, scaling and even cracks or fissures in your skin. The majority of cases of dry, flaky skin respond well to preventive lifestyle measures and simple home remedies.

How to Prevent Scaly Skin on Face?

The American Academy of Dermatology states that “the number one extrinsic cause of skin aging is exposure to damaging rays from the sun; and one of the primary symptoms of aging skin is a dry, dull appearance.” Therefore, protecting your skin from sun damage is as simple as wearing sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed hat outdoors. As well as exposure to hot water , harsh cleansers, perfumed products and soaps can also dry out your skin, and should be avoided.

How to get rid of scaly skin on face?


One of the best treatments for dry, scaly skin is to use a moisturizer on your face 2-4 times a day. When used after washing your face or bathing, moisturizers can help seal water into your skin’s outer layer, the stratum corneum, reducing both itching and flaking. Moisturizers can be available in three main types of preparations: lotions, creams and ointments. Studies note that thicker products including heavy creams or ointments can provide the most staying power and do not need to be applied frequently.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid which is derived from milk. It can penetrate the skin, removing the top layer of dead, dull skin to reveal the fresher, smoother skin that lie just beneath. Lactic acid is available in many  preparations; office facial peels, home kits and moisturizers.


Hydrocortisone is an anti-inflammatory steroid which is available in preparations in over-the-counter and prescription strength. It can help control itching in severe cases of dry, flaky skin. It is safe to use hydrocortisone at home for short-term relief; however, it should only be used for longer periods under the direction of a physician.

Although most cases of dry, scaly skin are mild and respond well to preventive and home measures, severe dryness and flaking can be signs of more serious skin conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis. Talk to a doctor if dry, flaking skin persists year-round and does not respond to treatment at home if your skin develops fissures or cracks which bleed.


2. Scaly Legs

how to get rid of scaly skin

According to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus website, your arms, sides of the abdomen, the lower legs are the most common areas in which you may experience dry skin. Scaly legs can result in itching and peeling, serving as a nuisance during winter months when cold winter temperatures rob your skin of moisture.

What’s Causing Scaly Legs?

According to The New York Times Health Guide, scaly skin legs can be caused by a number of factors including the eczema or bathing too frequently. There are also other factors that include aging, living in an arid or cold temperature and the time you spend outdoors. Scaly skin is prevalent during the winter months when cold temperatures and low humidity reduce the amount of moisture for your skin, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

How to Identify the Scaly Legs?

If you rub your hands over the skin of your legs, you may feel roughly textured skin. Very dry skin seems cracked as if there are ridges on the skin. Moreover, the skin feels tightened on legs as if someone is pulling your skin. Itching is common in dry lower leg skin.

How to get rid of Scaly Legs?

If your scaly leg skin is mild, you can easily apply a moisturizer 2-3 times per day after getting out of the shower. This can help to keep your legs moisturized.  Your leg circulation can be affecting your ability to provide moisture to the skin, so massaging this lotion in helps to boost circulation. If your leg skin does not respond to over-the-counter treatments, your doctor will prescribe a special cream to encourage skin exfoliation and moisturize your legs. Moreover, using a humidifier to add moisture into the air can help if you live in a dry climate.

When to Worry?

In some cases, scaly dry lower leg skin may indicate a more serious problem. This includes if your lower leg skin itching and dryness prevent your ability to sleep or if you have scratches on your skin that do not heal with time. This will be an indicator that you have poor circulation in the skin.


3. Scaly Skin on arms and hands


how to get rid of scaly skin

People can develop scaly skin on their hands at some point in their lives. Blame it on the weather, improper skin care, or daily tasks such as washing dishes or gardening. However, dry Scaly Skin on arms and hands which persists can be a sign of a more worrisome disease. Early diagnosis, medication and treatment may prevent further complications, according the American Academy of Dermatology.

What’s causing scaly skin on arms and hands?

  • Eczema

The cause of dry, scaling skin can be eczema, which is also known as dermatitis. Hand eczema can cause your skin to itch or crack. It also can be very painful, states the National Eczema Association. There are many factors that may trigger hand eczema; for example, if you had childhood allergies or other skin problems, if you wash your hands frequently for your job, or exposure to harsh chemicals. If you notice that the dry, scaly skin on your hands does not clear up on its own after a few weeks of using moisturizers, the NEA recommends consulting your doctor.

  • Psoriasis

Over 7.5 million Americans have this psoriasis, which is an autoimmune disease. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. It is characterized by raised, red lesions or patches that covered by a white, scaly build-up of dead skin cells. Psoriasis develops when your immune system increases the rate of skin cell growth. While skin cells mature and shed within 28- 30 days, if you have psoriasis your skin cells mature after 3-4 days ;but they do not shed.

  • Skin Cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology explains that if you spent years soaking up the sun rays, you may develop actinic dry, scaly areas on your skin which are the first signs of skin cancer. They can develop on your hands and other areas, such as your neck or head,  any area that has been exposed to the sun. In many cases, actinic keratosis show up after age 40, and you are more susceptible to them if you have fair skin. If you suspect that you have actinic keratosis, you should see a doctor immediately.

How to diagnose scaly skin on arms and hands?

If dry, scaling skin is still for more than 2 weeks,  with at-home care, you must consult a dermatologist as soon as possible. Dermatologist is health professional who specializes in treating skin, hair and nail conditions. He can diagnose your skin condition and recommend medication and at-home treatment.

How to get rid of scaly skin on arms and hands?

For eczema, your doctor will recommend corticosteroid or immunomodulator cream. The best treatments for psoriasis are medications approved for treating this skin condition. Treatment for actinic keratosis include cryosurgery or freezing your skin or scales until they flake off. Other treatments can include chemotherapy, topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemical peeling and laser resurfacing.

Tips to follow at home

There are many home remedies that you may find useful include avoiding the irritant or harsh chemical that causing the dryness and scaling or wearing gloves. Use lukewarm water with a scent-free, gentle cleanser or moisturizing soap and apply moisturizer after you wash your hands. Remember to apply sunscreen to your hands.


4. Scaly Skin Under Eyes


how to get rid of scaly skin

Scaly skin is a problem that affects millions of people. The condition can cause itching, flaking, cracked lines and rough patches.

Swimming is a good source of exercise; however, it can also be a major contributor to scaly skin patches under the eyes. Because  the skin underneath your eyes is thinner than skin on other parts of your body, fine lines and dark circles accumulates. Other signs that may follow scaly skin are redness, irritable eyes and scaly dry spots.

To help treat these problems, try keeping a lubricating moisturizer under the baseline of the eyes to reduce dry skin. Also try keeping the entire face area clean and moisturized.

How to identify scaly skin under eyes?

Sometimes, the symptoms of scaly skin under the eyes must not be visible. However, the itching and irritable feeling is present, the other signs are not far behind. Dry skin may create wrinkles and fine lines. It also produces the rough and raw looking skin that feels textured when it is touched. Scaly flakes can also be present along with a little swelling under the eyes.

Having a natural dry, scaly skin is not helpful in these instances, which are why dry skin should be treated promptly.

What’s causing scaly skin under the eyes?

There are medical conditions which can contribute to scaly skin on every part of your body, including under the eyes. Psoriasis, Seborrhea dermatitis, Eczema and Blepharitis are known conditions that can severely affect the skin.

All of these conditions cause dry, flaky, irritable skin patches and redness. Blepharitis is the worst because it can cause inflammatory conditions which can harm the eyelids due to the oil glands malfunctioning.

Cosmetics like skin foundation, lotions, cleansers, eye liners, eye shadow, mascara and removers can also cause dry out and scaling the skin under the eyes.

How to get rid of scaly skin under eyes?

There is no simple cure for scaly patches under the eyes; however, there are effective treatment methods on the market. Simple psoriasis is treatable with local antibiotics and in mild case a steroid may be needed. This is true for sensitive areas. Creams are very useful in treating dry, scaling and irritable skin conditions.

Most creams contain anesthetics, antifungal, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and antibacterial properties. These anti properties are formulated to combat the most bothersome scaly, dry skin. Some creams and ointments are designed for the eye areas. They can help to keep the dry and sensitive areas of the eyes lubricated and moisturized.

Other important factors that should be considered about scaly eyes are environmental and diet changes. Eating right and drinking plenty of fluids will help get moisture in the body.

Moreover, being in the sun for longer periods of time can damage the skin and dries it out. Use tropical creams suitable for under eye dry skin and take plenty of nutrients and vitamins.

To relieve redness and irritation mix ½ tsp of aloe Vera gel, and ½ tsp of olive oil in a small cup and apply it to under the eyes every night.


5. Ichthyosis vulgaris


how to get rid of scaly skin

Ichthyosis vulgaris, which is also known as common ichthyosis or fish scale disease, is a skin condition that resulting in scaly skin, on the arms and legs. Its name is derived from the Greek word meaning “fish.”

Ichthyosis vulgaris can be hereditary, or it can develop later in life as a result of certain exposures. The hereditary type, which also called congenital ichthyosis vulgaris, first appears in early childhood. The acquired type usually develops in adulthood and results from an internal disease or the use of certain medications.

Who’s at risk?

Ichthyosis vulgaris is commonly found in people of all races and of both sexes. Hereditary Ichthyosis vulgaris is very common. As many as 1 in 250 children may have hereditary Ichthyosis vulgaris. On the other hand, acquired Ichthyosis vulgaris is rare and is found almost exclusively in adults.

In hereditary Ichthyosis, usually at least one of the affected person’s parents had the same dry, scaly skin as a child. It is inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion, meaning that every child of an affected parent has a 50-50 chance of having hereditary Ichthyosis vulgaris.

What are Symptoms of Ichthyosis vulgaris?

The most common locations for Ichthyosis vulgaris include:

  • Fronts of the legs
  • Backs of the arms
  • Scalp
  • Back
  • Forehead and cheeks.


The scales of Ichthyosis vulgaris range in size from 1–10 mm and in colour from white to grey to brown, with darker-skinned people often having darker scales. The legs are commonly affected more than the arms. The creases on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are prominent and crack during dry or cold weather. However, the scaling improves in more humid or warmer weather.

The following areas are NOT affected:

  • Face
  • Front of the neck
  • Abdomen
  • Folds in front of the elbows
  • Folds behind the knees


Hereditary Ichthyosis and acquired Ichthyosis look similar, and both are usually itchy. However, the acquired form occurs in people with internal conditions, including:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Infections, such as HIV/AIDS
  • Glandular diseases, such as thyroid or parathyroid problems
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Cancer, such as lymphoma or multiple myeloma
  • Use of certain medications, such as nicotinic acid, cimetidine, and clofazimine


What to Do with Ichthyosis vulgaris?

Hereditary Ichthyosis vulgaris tends to improve after puberty, while acquired Ichthyosis vulgaris requires treatment of the medical condition before it will improve.

However, both conditions should improve by restoring moisture to your skin. Creams and ointments are better moisturizers than lotions. They work best when applied just after bathing, while the skin is still moist.

In conclusion,  do not worry about how to get rid of scaly skin since there are treatments for each type of scaly skin whether you are suffering from scaly skin on arms, scaly skin on legs or ” fish scale skin on legs”, etc. It is advised to see a doctor.


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