What causes skin thickening and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Have you ever noticed that your skin feels thicker than usual? Skin thickening, also known as thickened skin, can be a cause for concern. It can be a symptom of an underlying condition or simply a result of external factors. In this article, we will explore the causes of skin thickening, the symptoms to look out for, and the various treatment options available to reduce and manage this condition.

Causes of Skin Thickening

Skin thickening can occur due to a variety of reasons. Here are some common causes:

  • Psoriasis: This chronic autoimmune condition can cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly, leading to thickened patches of skin.
  • Eczema: Another chronic skin condition, eczema can cause the skin to become thick, dry, and itchy.
  • Calluses and Corns: These are areas of thickened skin that develop in response to repeated friction or pressure.
  • Scarring: After an injury or surgery, the body may produce excess collagen, resulting in thickened scar tissue.
  • Hyperkeratosis: This condition occurs when there is an overproduction of keratin, a protein that forms the outer layer of the skin.

Symptoms of Skin Thickening

Recognizing the symptoms of skin thickening is crucial for early detection and treatment. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Thickened patches of skin that may appear rough or bumpy
  • Dryness and tightness in the affected areas
  • Itching or discomfort
  • Changes in skin color or texture
  • Formation of calluses or corns

Treatment for Skin Thickening

While complete cure may not always be possible, there are several treatment options available to reduce skin thickening and manage the symptoms effectively. Here are some common approaches:

Topical Medications

Topical corticosteroids or immunomodulators may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and promote skin healing. These medications can help alleviate itching and reduce the thickness of the skin.


Regularly applying moisturizers can help hydrate the skin and prevent dryness, which can contribute to skin thickening. Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like urea or lactic acid, which can help soften and exfoliate the skin.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter creams and ointments. It helps to remove dead skin cells and promote the growth of new, healthy skin.


In some cases, cryotherapy may be used to freeze and destroy the thickened skin cells. This procedure can be effective in reducing the thickness and improving the appearance of the skin.

How to Reduce Skin Thickening

While treatment options can help manage skin thickening, there are also steps you can take to reduce its severity and prevent further thickening:

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure, as it can contribute to skin thickening.
  • Keep the affected areas clean and moisturized.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and detergents that can strip the skin of its natural oils.
  • Wear protective clothing and gloves when handling chemicals or engaging in activities that may cause friction or pressure on the skin.
  • Manage stress levels, as stress can worsen certain skin conditions.

Skin Thickening Remedies

In addition to medical treatments, there are also natural remedies that can help reduce skin thickening:

  • Applying aloe vera gel to the affected areas can help soothe inflammation and promote healing.
  • Using coconut oil as a moisturizer can help soften and hydrate the skin.
  • Applying a paste of turmeric and honey can help reduce inflammation and promote skin health.
  • Using oatmeal baths or compresses can provide relief from itching and help soothe the skin.

Skin Thickening Prevention and Management

Preventing skin thickening involves taking proactive measures to maintain the health of your skin. Here are some tips:

  • Practice good skincare habits, including regular cleansing and moisturizing.
  • Protect your skin from excessive sun exposure by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing.
  • Avoid smoking, as it can contribute to skin damage and premature aging.
  • Manage any underlying health conditions that may contribute to skin thickening.
  • Seek medical advice if you notice any changes in your skin, such as thickening or discoloration.

In conclusion, skin thickening can be caused by various factors, ranging from underlying health conditions to external factors like friction and pressure. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment is essential for managing this condition effectively. By following preventive measures and adopting a comprehensive treatment plan, you can reduce skin thickening and maintain healthy, vibrant skin.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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