Scaly Skin: Home Therapies

Last month we discussed Seborrheic keratosis (SK)-those rough growths that develop on the skin of people who are becoming more mature. In-office treatments were reviewed, and now this month we will evaluate some home remedies that will help with these irritating growths. The best treatment is alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and-more specifically-glycolic acid, because it is proven to be effective in loosening up the dead skin cells. This acid will remove the glue that holds the old dead cells in place from the upper layer of skin. By doing this, glycolic acid will enable new skin cells to grow in more effectively. This new growth has been equated with decreased SK thickness as well as helping with fine lines and wrinkles across the face. In addition, it causes compacting of the deeper skin cells, which will give the patient a more polished appearance.

Glycolic acid is found in many cosmetic lotions and creams on the market today. The Food and Drug Administration will allow companies to use glycolic acid in concentrations of 10% or less in lotions and creams. The exception to this is facial peels, which are dosed up to 50% and even 75% in a step-wise treatment regimen. Conditions treated with chemical peels include acne scars, a dark pigmentation across the face called melisma, as well as wrinkles and sun-aged skin. Side effects of glycolic acid are minimal, the main one being increased sensitivity to sunlight. Therefore, always apply sunscreen-SPF 30 or above is recommended-after using and when outdoors.

Without advocating for any one particular product, we will review a method to decrease SK across the body. To begin, use an exfoliating sponge or cloth in the shower or bath to those areas that are forming these growths with a body or bath wash containing glycolic acid. Some common places these barnacles like to grow are the face, backs of the hands and knees, as well as the top of the foot. Start at two times per week to allow skin to get used to the quicker-than-usual exfoliation, then slowly increase to nightly. Be particularly careful across the face and neck since these areas are more sensitive. Within 3 to 4 minutes after toweling off, apply a lotion containing glycolic acid to all of the skin. For the remainder of the five days, use a thick, rich, non-scented body cream or lotion after showering.  An exfoliating sponge or cloth can still be used in the shower on those other five nights. Over time the skin will adjust to the treatment. When it does, increase the nights per week that the glycolic acid lotion is used. Over time, a significant decrease in the roughness of those barnacles as well as increased skin softness and fullness will be noticeable.

Remember, it is important to never use exfoliation or any acids on open sores or broken skin. Dermatology professionals should evaluate any sores that won’t heal or any new growth that does not go away. Please contact me via Facebook for some specific products to use if you are interested: Darrel Arthurs, NP-BC Dermatology Certified.

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