Why is my skin flaky and dry?

This flaky skin problem can often be solved without a doctor’s visit.  But, if it persists, see your doctor!

Three main causes of flaky skin on the face and body:

Flaky skin from Seborrhea (Dandruff)

Seborrhea (Dandruff) causes flakes on the scalp, forehead, eyebrows, beard area, and base of the nose. Usually only one or two areas are involved. A yeast organism that overgrows in the oil glands is the culprit. Try a product like Selsun Blue or Sebulex shampoo. Rub it into the affected areas, leave on for a few minutes and then wash out daily. Flaky scalps need to be washed daily (it’s NOT dry) to remove the yeast organisms. It’s fine to use the medicated shampoo and then your own hair products after that. Moisturize! Hydrocortisone in the drugstores only masks the problem and actually makes this problem worse over time.

Flakes on the face – Irritation

If not related to above, flakiness is a sign that your skin is irritated or inflamed and this can be subtle  –   not necessarily like a sunburn! The key is to identify what’s irritating you. Consider that over-scrubbing, acne meds, sunscreen and potentially any product you put on your face, may be the cause. What to do? Reduce your entire skin care routine to two products that you know you tolerate well for at least a week: a gentle cleanser (here is a good one that I recommend by SkinCeuticals) and 1 moisturizer. When your skin is better, try adding products back one at a time a week apart until you figure out which is the culprit.

Flaky skin on body – Dryness

This is usually related to dryness because there are very few oil glands over much of our arms, legs and back and because our skin gets dryer as we age.  This usually translates to flakiness and sometimes itching. To improve this, use soap or cleanser only on the face, armpits and groin area unless you’ve been rolling in the mud. And after every shower/bath apply a full body application of your favorite moisturizing lotion –  things like CeraVe or Cetaphil are fine. This Eminence coconut body lotion is also a great product I use, that is moisturizing without being greasy, as well as organic.  Lower legs may need something more like Amlactin.

Dr. Irwin

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Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

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