What is dry scaly skin?

Dry scaly skin is a type of rash that can signify any number of skin disorders. Scaly skin gets its name from its appearance—that is, a rough, raised patch of skin that, on close inspection, appears to be broken up into a network of flat, raised “chips” of skin, as opposed to flakes, which are thin and fine. In some cases, scaly skin resembles the scales on a fish, though not in such a smooth or symmetrical pattern.

It can be easy to confuse scales with flakes, but scaly skin and flaky skin can be quite different symptoms. Dry scaly skin can be differentiated from flaky skin in that flaky skin is a shedding of thin, delicate pieces of dead, dried skin, which are so thin that they appear white and almost like a fine dusting of snow. In contrast, scales are thickened, raised areas that are rough and firm to the touch. Some forms of scaly skin have been compared to lichen.

Dry scaly skin has been associated with a number of disorders, including bacterial infections (for example, impetigo, staph infections, or erythrasma) and fungal infections (for example, tinea, also known as ringworm). It also is associated with skin disorders, including psoriasis, eczema, or atopic dermatitis, and with allergic reactions, such as reactions to poison oak or poison ivy. Cold, dry winter weather can also cause very dry skin (called xerosis), but this type of dry skin is unlikely to cause true scaling.

In itself, dry scaly skin is seldom dangerous, but you should see your health care provider to determine the cause. The underlying disorder causing your dry scaly skin may need treatment.

In very rare, severe allergic reactions, you may experience anaphylaxis, which is life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, develop difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, or rapid, marked swelling near the site of a reaction.

Seek prompt medical care if your dry scaly skin is persistent or causes you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with dry scaly skin?

Dry scaly skin may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the skin may also involve other body systems.... Read more about dry scaly skinsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes dry scaly skin?

Dry scaly skin has been associated with a number of disorders, including bacterial infections (such as impetigo, staphylococcal bacterial infections, including psoriasis, eczema, or atopic dermatitis, and with allergic reactions, such as reactions to poison oak or poison ivy. Cold, dry winter weather can also cause very dry skin (called xerosis), but this type of dry skin rarely causes true scaling. In itself, dry scaly skin is seldom dangerous, but you should always see a doctor to determine the cause.... Read more about dry scaly skincauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails


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