Scaling skin can affect any part of the body & be caused by a range of different conditions, both systemic & allergic. It may be due to external factors, or linked to an existing health condition, & sometimes can indicate serious underlying causes. In order to deal effectively with your scaly skin, your best option is to make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can examine you & get you an accurate diagnosis & treatment plan.
Scaling skin is a condition in which the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer, forms large, dry, scale-like flakes. It is also known as desquamation, peeling skin, flaking skin, or scaly skin, & can affect any body part, although it most common on the hands, feet, face, & limbs. The skin beneath the scales or flakes may appear red cracked, & be itchy.
Scaling skin occurs when the moisture balance is affected by damage or excessive dryness in the outer layer of skin.
Several conditions can cause scales on the skin, & each have their own set of symptoms.
- Actinic keratosis: a patch of skin (pink, tan, grey, or brown) usually 2cm or less, which appears thick, scaly, & crusty, & usually occurs in an area that has been exposed to a lot of sun (hands, face, neck, chest, scalp, arms).
- Allergic reaction: the skin develops a scaly, red, itchy rash which can be caused by various irritants, & may be a medical emergency, especially if you are experiencing difficulty breathing.
- Ringworm: the rash is scaly, itchy, & ring-shaped, with a clear round border that may be raised
- Contact dermatitis / allergic eczema: red, itchy, scaly rash that may ooze or weep, appears wherever the skin has come into contact with the allergen.
- Scabies: the scales appear between the toes or fingers (in the web spaces), & can be incredibly itchy.
- Eczema: the scales are yellow & white, & appear in flaky patches, which may also be itchy or greasy.
- Seborrheic eczema: patches of yellow or white scales that flake & fall off.
- Psoriasis: patches of skin covered in silvery scales that flake off & itch, usually found on the scalp, around the elbow & knee joints, & the lower back.
- Ichthyosis vulgaris: a congenital skin condition where dead skin cells accumulate on the skin surface, resembling fish scales, which may be brown, grey, or white, & severely dry.
Some other conditions that have scaling skin as a symptom include: Athlete’s foot, types of non-melanoma skin cancer, hypoparathyroidism, Kawasaki disease, allergies, statis dermatitis, ulcers, toxic shock syndrome, scarlet fever, tinea corporis, tinea versicolor, tinea pedis, tinea manuum, tinea facei, tinea cruris, exfoliative dermatitis, pityriasis rosea, discoid lupus erythematosus, keratosis pilaris.