What is Flaky Skin?
Flaky skin is a condition that occurs when extreme dryness results in the shedding of the topmost layers, causing an outbreak of flakes on most parts of the body. When the body’s natural oily layer on the skin dries out, the skin is unable to produce enough oil and moisture for the body to replenish the amount being lost. For the most part, the skin is able to replace that which is lost, but sometimes the body's efforts are not enough and the skin needs more protection.
Diagnosing Flaky Skin
Flaky skin is usually characterized by intense itching, inflammation, and a fishlike scaling on certain areas of the body. In more extreme cases, the flakiness may lead to chapping, cracking and tightness of the skin. The excessive itching and consequent scratching can result in open wounds that are quite painful. It tends to be more common on the legs, knees, elbows, and arms where the skin is thinner and more exposed. However, it can also affect the scalp (as is the case with cradle cap) as well as the entire body.
People with flaky, dry skin should steer away from harsh cosmetics, especially those that are fragranced, as well as chemicals such as detergents and cleaning agents. The most effective way to control and prevent flaky skin is to moisturize as often as possible. Moisturizers help to retain moisture in the body, and when used regularly, can make a difference to the skin. More severe episodes of flaky skin where psoriasis or eczema are present may need to be treated by a dermatologist.
What Causes Flaky Skin?
At certain times of the year, particularly during winter, our skins become drier and are more inclined to flake. The heated indoor air and low humidity in cold outdoor air causes the skin to need additional moisture. Without the necessary moisture, the dry skin is able to flake off - just like old paint.
There are many causes of dry, flaky skin. With aging, the skin has a tendency to become dry and dehydrated. Elderly people are more prone to flaking skin because of the natural changes that occur in the skin with age. No matter what age you are, dry, flaky skin may be irritated and exacerbated by frequent bathing and showering, especially with hot water and harsh soaps. Some people also have a genetic or hereditary tendency to develop flaky skin.
Other Factors That May Contribute to Flaky Skin
Other factors that may contribute to this condition include:
Flaky skin may also be as result of other skin conditions which can cause the skin to become irritated or inflamed, such as:
Help for Flaky Skin
Natural and holistic treatments have proven to be beneficial in minimizing unsightly flare-ups associated with flaky, dry skin. Many of the skin products on the market today contain chemicals that exacerbate this condition instead of providing relief. Only the purest, most natural ingredients are used in holistic treatments.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies provide a safe yet highly effective alternative. Natrium muriaticum, a biochemic tissue salt, helps to maintain the body's water balance and is an essential component of all living cells. This tissue salt has an excellent reputation for effectively treating eczema, psoriasis and any other skin conditions that are associated with blisters or skin which is excessively dry.
Kalium muriaticum (Kali. mur.) acts as a blood and lymph cleanser, a waste eliminator, and a natural anti-inflammatory that can help the skin to detox. Trifolium pratense (red clover) has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and antispasmodic properties, and is also well known as a cleansing herb for skin complaints, including eczema and psoriasis.
More Information on Flaky Skin
Tips for Flaky Skin
- Drink lots of water to provide the skin with sufficient moisture.
- Avoid using fragranced and antibacterial soaps, as they are often too harsh for the skin.
- Use super-fatted cleansing bars or add aqueous cream to your bath water for a nourishing effect.
- Reduce your time in the shower (three minutes is adequate) and make sure the water temperature does not exceed 85 degrees. Both baths and showers should be tepid, not hot.
- Dry yourself well after a shower or bath because water on the surface tends to dry the skin out. Pat (rather than rub) skin dry after bathing.
- Once you have dried yourself, apply moisturizer generously onto the skin.
- Avoid lotions that contain lanolin.
- Apply moisturizer to extremely flaky, dry areas of the skin and then wrap in plastic, gloves, or socks to retain moisture.
- Place a humidifier in your bedroom to keep your skin moist, especially if you have forced-air heat.
- Exfoliate gently at least once a week, particularly during the colder months – this will help to remove the flakes.
Protect your skin from free radicals by eating fruits and vegetables with antioxidant properties.