Scaly skin - causes and treatment

Scaly skin - causes and treatment

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Home remedies and naturopathy can help with scaly skin
Scaly skin - often combined with dry, itchy skin - is a symptom that can be very uncomfortable, even if the health consequences are usually harmless. Scaly skin arises, for example, from lack of care in winter with dry heating air or in connection with hormonal changeover times. In addition, diseases such as diabetes mellitus, neurodermatitis or psoriasis can trigger the unpleasant skin appearance.

Dandruff can look different

Scaly skin can look different. The skin flakes are distributed over a small or large area, fine or large, firmly attached to the skin or can be removed by lightly stroking them. The scales also look different: small, thin, rounded, square, bran-like. or crusty.

The protective layer of the skin

The skin is our largest organ and forms a protective layer to the outside, but also acts as an absorption organ. The skin protects us from cold, heat, pressure, friction, water and heat loss and the penetration of microorganisms.

The skin is in a constant process of renewal - skin cells die and skin cells regenerate. Dander builds up when this process is disturbed.

Outside interference

The function of the skin barrier can be disturbed from the outside. Dry air, too frequent bathing or showering, very chalky water or massive temperatures (too hot or too cold) - all of these can damage the skin. So heat in summer and / or sunbathing that is too long can lead to scaly skin, as can dry heating air in winter, cold, snow, rain and wind. If the skin is not protected with suitable care and appropriate clothing, dryness, itching and / or dandruff develop. Care with the wrong or too aggressive products can also lead to flaky skin.

Causes - Various diseases

Various diseases can lead to scaly skin. These include neurodermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections, contact dermatitis, autoimmune diseases and diabetes mellitus.


Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease of various forms: redness, blisters, pustules, scab, rhaghades, dry skin and dandruff in connection with sometimes massive itching - all of these skin symptoms can occur in atopic dermatitis. Infants from the third month are often affected. These show dry, flaky skin, but also weeping and later crusting skin symptoms. The face and hairy head are also affected. With increasing age, eczema shows up in the typical places, the large articulation of the knees and elbows, but also on the neck. The disease is always accompanied by severe itching. From puberty onwards, the disease can also affect other parts of the body.

In neurodermatitis, the protective horny layer is not properly built up, which makes the skin very susceptible and therefore it must be protected and treated with suitable agents.


Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that is accompanied by a cornification disorder. The typical appearance of the skin can be seen in flammable red herds with shiny silver scales. The spread of the herd differs from patient to patient. However, these always start with a small, inflammatory red spot that is later covered by silvery scales. Psoriasis is particularly evident on the extensor sides of the extremities, on the hairy head and in the area of ​​the coccyx.

Fungal infections

Scaly skin is often associated with fungal infections. Tinea corporis, for example, is a fungal skin infection caused by contact with animals. The fungi can also be transmitted through contaminated objects or from person to person. A moist and warm environment of the skin is beneficial for the infection. A risk of diabetes mellitus, a weakened immune system or circulatory disorders are also among the risk factors. In addition, people who already suffer from neurodermatitis, but also older people, are more easily infected with fungi.

Those affected suffer from circular skin lesions with scaling, papules or even small pustules. The fungal infection can lead to more extensive complaints, especially if the infection is deeper. Painful nodules form, the lymph nodes swell, and the patient suffers from fever and fatigue.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that, as the name suggests, arises from contact with chemical or physical stimuli. Examples of this are the chemical substances that a hairdresser uses or the constant contact with cleaning agents or disinfectants. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include redness, swelling, dryness, itching, tingling, crusting, blistering and flaky skin. The skin barrier can be affected in such a way that bacteria penetrate the inflamed areas, trigger a secondary infection and thus worsen the clinical picture.

Autoimmune diseases

In autoimmune diseases, the body acts against itself. This means that your own immune system fights the body's own tissue. Autoimmune diseases that may include scaly skin include lupus erythematosus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Sjogren's syndrome.

There are various forms of lupus erythematosus. One of them is the SCLE (subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus). This shape is limited to the skin and subcutaneous fat. Symptoms of the disease are scaly circular redness, which occurs primarily on the décolleté, back and on the extensor sides of the forearms and upper arms. Often, those affected also suffer from muscle and joint pain.

Sjögren's syndrome is also an autoimmune disease that can be associated with scaly skin. It belongs to the group of collagenoses (autoimmune disease of the connective tissue). The disease primarily affects the function of the lacrimal and salivary glands and predominantly affects women between the ages of 30 and 50. Sjogren's syndrome also occurs with other autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. The main symptoms include dry, watery eyes, a dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, severe fatigue and fatigue, a dry nose, swelling of the salivary glands, joint and muscle pain and possibly also dry, flaky skin.

The third autoimmune disease in the group is Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In this disease there is a chronic inflammation because the immune system acts against the tissue of the thyroid gland. At first, it manifests itself through symptoms of an overactive thyroid such as sweating, tremors, palpitations and weight loss. The disease later turns into an underactive thyroid. Those affected suffer from weight gain, freezing, listlessness, constipation, cycle disorders, dry and flaky skin. More women than men are affected by the disease. Unfortunately, those affected are getting younger and younger, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis has even hit young girls.

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a widespread metabolic disease in which the sugar metabolism is disturbed. This has a negative effect on the entire organism. That is why early detection is very important. With diabetes, the skin is also affected and those affected tend to get fungal infections and repeatedly develop abscesses, phlegmon and carbuncles. The skin becomes dry and flaky. Good diuretic skin care is generally recommended for all diabetics.

Other causes

Deficiency states, dry air, disposition or even age can be other causes of flaky skin.

Deficiency states

Unilateral, unhealthy eating can lead to flaky skin. Vitamin-rich, basic and wholesome food is recommended here in order to counteract deficiency conditions.

Dry air

Dry heating air or the air from the air conditioning system, overheated rooms in which there is never or only rarely ventilation - all of this can dry out the skin and lead to dandruff. Humidifiers can help here.


Increasing age affects the skin - this is quite normal. With increasing age, the natural skin moisture decreases and the skin also becomes thinner. This can make it scaly more easily. Good, moisturizing care is important here.

Hormonal changeover times

Hormonal changeover times, such as puberty, pregnancy, lactation and menopause, affect the entire body - including the skin. It is not uncommon for this to appear increasingly scaly in such phases.


Lack of exercise, stress, lack of sleep, too much alcohol and nicotine - these are also negative factors for the skin barrier that can promote flaky skin.

Home remedies for scaly skin

If you have flaky skin, you don't have to use the chemical club right away. Instead, the home remedies listed below can also bring success. If there are certain diseases as the cause, these must of course be treated. However, the home remedies listed can still be helpful here.

Cleaning with carrot juice

Proper care should be taken, especially for flaky skin on the face. Here, instead of any products, pure carrot juice is recommended for cleaning. This supplies the skin with important substances and makes it soft. The juice is rinsed well with lukewarm water after use, as it can easily color the skin.

Oil bath with milk

A soothing bath can nourish the skin and relieve dryness and dandruff. For this, 250 ml of milk are mixed with about 50 ml of good, cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil and then added to the bath water. If you don't like milk, you can also try the whole thing with a tablespoon of honey. So that the care bath becomes something special, a few lavender flowers can jump into the game. In addition, lavender has a de-stressing effect, which is certainly good for irritated skin.

Quark and yogurt from the outside

Smaller areas with flaky skin benefit from envelopes with curd cheese or yoghurt. For this, some yoghurt or curd is placed on a cotton cloth, wrapped in from both sides and applied to the affected, flaky skin with the thin side. The envelope then stays there for about half an hour. To support the effect, some good oil is added to the milk product (olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, sesame oil).

Liquid, liquid, liquid

Scaly skin needs moisture and this must also come from the inside. It is therefore important to think of an adequate hydration (at least 2 liters a day) in the form of still water and herbal tea. Ginger tea is a particularly healthy way of hydrating the skin.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is ideal for the skin - especially if it is irritated, dry and scaly. The best thing is the fresh gel, straight from the plant. A sheet is cut lengthways, the inside scraped out, crushed a little with a fork and then applied to the skin. If you don't have an aloe plant at home, buy a good, high-quality pure aloe vera gel. When the skin has absorbed the gel, it tightens a little. If this is uncomfortable, you can wipe the area with a little lukewarm water about half an hour after application and gently dab the skin dry.


Avocado is a high-fat, tasty fruit that can be prepared in various ways (e.g. guacamole). For flaky skin, it is recommended both internally and externally - it supplies the skin with vitamins and healthy fats. In the case of smaller scaly spots, the flesh of an avocado is crushed, applied to the slightly damp skin and rinsed off with water after about 20 minutes. A little honey can be added to the pulp. Avocados should also be on the menu regularly, since the healthy fatty acids and the high content of antioxidants from the inside are good for the skin.


Bananas are very healthy and also work against dry flaky skin from the inside. It is best to eat a banana several times a week, mix it in your muesli or add it to your smoothie. But the banana can also help from the outside. For this purpose, a banana is crushed with a fork and mixed with two tablespoons of plain yogurt and a teaspoon of honey. The porridge is then applied to the skin and washed off thoroughly after a quarter of an hour.

Different oils

Good, cold-pressed oils help the skin. Depending on your taste, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil and almond oil are recommended. The oils are applied very thinly every day.

Oatmeal as a peeling

A gentle peeling removes the upper layers of the skin. The skin is then much more receptive to the active ingredients used and the formation of dandruff is reduced. Oatmeal is finely ground and mixed with a little oil. This then serves as a peeling. Care products applied afterwards can work significantly better.


Honey not only tastes delicious, but also helps with chapped lips or cracked corners of the mouth and has an overall healing effect on the skin. With dry and flaky skin, honey can help to make it smoother again. For this, the sticky substance is applied directly to the skin. Let the honey take effect and rinse off the excess.


To protect yourself against flaky skin, the following helps: Sufficient hydration, regular exercise in the fresh air, humidifiers in the apartment, regular relaxation, lots of fruits and vegetables on the menu, enough sleep and healthy skin care with care products that do not contain any additives.

When to the doctor?

If the home remedies do not help at all, the skin becomes increasingly scaly or there are additional symptoms such as feeling unwell, feeling tired or the like, a doctor should be consulted. There may be diseases behind that need treatment. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Thomas Werfel et al .: S2K guideline for neurodermatitis, German Dermatological Society, (accessed September 5, 2019), AWMF
  • Alexander Nast et al .: S3 - Guideline for the therapy of psoriasis vulgaris, German Dermatological Society, (accessed September 5, 2019), AWMF
  • Robert Koch Institute: Mycoses (fungal infections), (accessed September 5, 2019), rki
  • Mercedes E. Gonzalez: Contact dermatitis, MSD Manual, (accessed September 5, 2019), MSD
  • Rudolf Schweitzer: Dermatology, The Naturopathic Academy, Urban & Fischer Verlag / Elsevier GmbH, 3rd edition, 2018

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