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What Are The Causes Of Dry Scaly Skin Patches

Our skin is the largest organ in the human body and sensitive to dry or hot climates causing it to become vulnerable to various forms of infection. Scaly skin patches on the skin can indicate a number of abnormal conditions ranging from eczema to cancer. The root cause of scaly skin is skin rashes that are due to fungal or bacterial infections. Bacteria automatically grow on infected skin resulting in irritating itching skin, sometimes forming blisters and reddish spots. Contrary to common belief skin rashes are due to underlying health issues and not to poor skin maintenance. Sometimes strong medication like steroids or autoimmune diseases like sarcoidosis can trigger skin disorders with scaly patches.

Various Symptoms

Symptoms of scaly skin patches depend largely on the type of virus that is present and causing the condition. Some symptoms include red bumps or lesions of the skin, spots and rashes accompanied by itching, inflammation, blisters or pussy lesions that oozes and may spread the infection to others.

One of the skin conditions that causes persistent and widespread dry, thick and scaly skin, called “fish scale”, is ichthyosis. There are more than twenty types of ichthyosis, some inherited from birth and others acquired during adulthood. There is no cure for this condition, however the symptoms can usually be kept mild and manageable by a daily skincare routine.

Symptoms Appearing by Birth

Most cases of ichthyosis are inherited from parents who carry the faulty gene with symptoms appearing at birth or during the first year of life. The rate at which the skin regenerates is affected by this faulty gene, causing a build-up of rough, dry and scaly skin. The skin either sheds its old skin cells too slowly ” or new skin cells reproduce much faster than the skin can shed old cells. This type of ichthyosis is called ichthyosis vulgaris where the skin appears normal at birth, gradually becoming rough, dry and scaly within a year. The skin on the elbows and knees are normally not affected, however the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet will become thickened with more lines than normal. Symptoms are more pronounced during cold and dry conditions, improving in warm, humid conditions.

Other Conditions

Acquired ichthyosis develops during adulthood and is usually associated with other conditions such as HIV, sarcoidosis, an underactive thyroid or Hodgkin lymphoma. It can also be triggered by certain types of medication, particularly those used in cancer therapy (vemurafenib).

Treatment includes the use of suitable moisturizing treatments prescribed by a dermatologist in the form of creams, lotions, bath oils and ointments to keep the skin moist and hydrated. Antiseptics and antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infections. Dry scaly skin should by checked by a skin specialist to rule out more serious causes such as skin cancer. Get to know more at

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