What causes thickening of skin and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Thickening of the skin, also known as skin thickening, is a condition that can occur for various reasons. It can be a result of natural aging, certain medical conditions, or external factors. Understanding the causes and symptoms of thickened skin is crucial in order to find the appropriate treatment. In this article, we will explore the different factors that contribute to thickening of the skin and discuss effective remedies to treat this condition.

What Causes Thickening of the Skin?

Thickened skin can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Age: As we age, our skin naturally becomes thicker and less elastic. This is due to a decrease in collagen production, which is responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing thickened skin. Certain genes can affect the production of collagen and other proteins that contribute to skin thickness.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, can cause the skin to thicken. These conditions often result in inflammation and an overproduction of skin cells.
  • External factors: Prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals, excessive sun exposure, and repetitive friction can also lead to thickening of the skin. These external factors can cause the skin to become rough, calloused, and thickened.

Skin Thickening Symptoms

Thickened skin can present with various symptoms, including:

  • Increased roughness and dryness
  • Visible thickening of the skin
  • Calluses or corns
  • Cracked or fissured skin
  • Discomfort or pain

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treating Thickened Skin

While thickened skin may not be completely curable, there are several treatment options available to manage the condition and alleviate symptoms. Here are some effective remedies:

Moisturize Regularly

Keeping the skin well-hydrated is essential in managing thickened skin. Moisturizers help to soften and nourish the skin, reducing roughness and dryness. Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides, as these help to lock in moisture and improve skin texture.

Exfoliate Gently

Regular exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover, which can reduce the thickness of the skin. However, it is important to exfoliate gently to avoid causing further damage or irritation. Use a mild exfoliating scrub or a soft brush to gently slough off dead skin cells.

Topical Treatments

There are various topical treatments available that can help manage thickened skin. These treatments often contain ingredients like salicylic acid, urea, or retinoids, which can help soften and thin the skin. It is important to follow the instructions provided by your dermatologist or the product label when using these treatments.

Protect from Sun Exposure

Excessive sun exposure can worsen thickened skin and cause further damage. It is crucial to protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing. This can help prevent the skin from becoming rougher and thicker.

Medical Interventions

In severe cases of thickened skin, medical interventions may be necessary. These can include procedures such as cryotherapy, laser therapy, or surgical removal of thickened skin. These interventions should be performed by a qualified dermatologist or healthcare professional.

Preventing Thickened Skin

While it may not always be possible to prevent thickened skin, there are certain measures you can take to minimize the risk:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals or irritants.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear when engaging in activities that may cause friction or pressure on the skin.
  • Keep your skin well-moisturized and hydrated.
  • Practice good sun protection habits, such as wearing sunscreen and seeking shade.
  • Manage any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to skin thickening.

By following these preventive measures, you can reduce the likelihood of developing thickened skin.


Thickening of the skin can be caused by various factors, including aging, genetics, medical conditions, and external factors. It is important to recognize the symptoms of thickened skin and seek appropriate treatment to manage the condition effectively. By moisturizing regularly, exfoliating gently, using topical treatments, protecting from sun exposure, and considering medical interventions when necessary, you can alleviate symptoms and improve the texture of your skin. Additionally, taking preventive measures can help minimize the risk of developing thickened skin. Remember to consult with a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

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