What Are the Causes of Scaly Dry Skin?

Alex Tree

Exposure to cold weather, eczema, and psoriasis are just some things that can lead to scaly dry skin. In addition, a health condition called hypothyroidism is also a potential cause of dry skin. Although many causes of dry scaly skin are not fatal or even more than a minor inconvenience, some conditions, such as hypothyroidism, should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. In general, even if a skin condition seems non-threatening, it is best to have a dermatologist determine the severity rather than rely on self-diagnosis.

Cold weather can cause scaly, dry skin.
Cold weather can cause scaly, dry skin.

In general, eczema refers to any rash, whether it is caused by an allergic reaction or genetic condition. Sometimes the cause of eczema is not known by the person who suffers from it or his or her doctor. This condition can cause scale dry skin, and it is generally recommended to avoid substances that might be irritating the skin. For example, soaps with fragrances, household cleaners with harsh chemicals, and even shaving cream can aggravate the condition. In some cases, synthetic and natural fabrics, like cotton-spandex blends or pure wool, can also aggravate the problem.

Manually washing dishes can cause dry skin patches on hands.
Manually washing dishes can cause dry skin patches on hands.

Scaly dry skin can be caused by issues other than medical conditions. For instance, being exposed to cold weather or engaging in aggressive washing can tax the skin so that it becomes dry and scaly. Also, some people inherit the problem of scaly dry skin and do not suffer from any underlying condition or cause. Furthermore, in other cases people may begin to suffer from scaly dry skin as they age without having a direct cause other than their aging.

One medical condition that can cause scaly dry skin is psoriasis, an autoimmune problem that results in the body growing skin faster than normal. The most common forms of psoriasis are typified by red or yellow scaly patches of skin that form around spots such as the elbows and knees. Why psoriasis occurs is not completely understood.

In some cases, hypothyroidism can lead to dry scaly skin, though this is a relatively minor side effect of the condition. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland stops producing enough thyroid hormone because of certain medications, birth defects, or exposure to harmful radiation. Other symptoms of this health condition are depression, general fatigue, and unexplained weight gain. This is a very serious condition that should be treated by a health professional, usually with a medication that is taken for the rest of the patient’s life.

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