Skin thickening – causes, treatment

Skin thickening

Skin thickening can have various causes, the most common are disorders of the sebaceous glands and the protective cornea. As a result, not all skin thickenings need to be treated.

What is skin thickening?

The skin is the most important functional organ of the human being, it serves to protect against external influences, as a shell of the inner body and performs important tasks in the human metabolism.

Although the skin itself is protected by its various layers, hair, layers and other components, skin diseases can develop. A rare skin disease is the thickening of the epidermis, the epidermis.

This usually occurs as a symptom and complication of another disease, as medically significant in their occurrence lichenification, tyloma and sebostase can be seen.

In sebostasis, the sebaceous glands secrete too little sebum, causing the skin to lose water and appear thickened. Lichenification is the thickening of the skin that occurs in chronic skin diseases, it is typical especially for neurodermatitis. With Tylom, the physician describes the colloquially called cornea thickening.


The causes of skin thickening must be distinguished according to the underlying disease.

In the case of skin thickening, for example, the development of skin cells is disturbed due to mechanical stress and inflammation. The skin cells suffer a shortened life cycle or insufficient removal of dead skin cells, it comes to thickening of the cell walls or excessive multiplication of them.

A thick corneal layer, medically called cornification disorder, is the result. This is visually striking, but serves to protect the skin layers underneath it and is therefore initially to be seen positively. Corneal thickening usually occurs on the soles of the feet and palms, which are particularly stressed in everyday life, but are possible on all skin areas.

Lichenifications are caused by long-lasting mechanical, inflammatory or chemical overstimulation of the skin, for example in neurodermatitis or allergies.

Sebostases are attributed to poor sebum production, which usually occurs as a sign of aging.

Diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & course

If the person concerned notices skin thickenings that he can not explain with a mechanical overstimulation and explainable cornea or which appear very strong to him, he should introduce himself to a dermatologist.

He will first take a detailed anamnesis to find out the side effects of skin thickening, possible underlying diseases, possible causes and the time of the first appearance of the symptom. This is followed by the optical examination of the affected skin areas and, if necessary, the measurement of the skin density. This is done either as an estimate with the naked eye or with aids such as a ruler.

In most cases, concrete diagnoses are already apparent during the examination, as the forms of skin thickening differ and have a typical appearance. For example, lichenifications are accompanied by an enlarged field drawing and a local skin thickening is noticeable in cornea.


If left untreated, skin thickening is often perceived as a cosmetic blemish. Discomfort and a reduction in well-being occur. The affected parts of the body are hidden, which can lead to a feeling of restriction in everyday life.

If it is not possible to cover the thickening of the skin with garments, it usually comes out of shame to a change in one’s own body language. For example, shaking hands is avoided or a greater distance to another person is established. This can cause incomprehension and be understood as rejection.

At the affected parts of the body, there is usually a reduced perception of absorbed stimuli. This can be perceived as pleasant and both unpleasant. If the skin thickening is caused by a skin disease such as neurodermatitis, in most cases long-term medication is administered. These have side effects and can thus trigger new complications.

Skin thickening may be associated with the formation of cornea. These are usually triggered by an overuse of the corresponding region. The removal of the cornea therefore usually leads to a new formation. It would be advisable to check existing loads or to check a wrong posture. If there is an inflammation, it is usually treated with tablets. Again, there may be side effects. Organs can be affected or an intolerance can have corresponding effects.

When to go to the doctor?

There can be different reasons for skin thickening. What does it depend on whether medical treatment is required? When is a thickening of the skin a symptom and when does it represent an independent disease?

The skin as the enveloping of the body acts as a demarcation to the outside world. It consists of several layers. Already here skin diseases can occur such as a thickening of the epidermis, the so-called epidermis. This thickening of the skin is a symptom, for example of sebastosis, in which the sebaceous glands release too little sebum, causing the skin to lose fluid and appear thickened. Skin thickening in neurodermatitis as well as various skin irritations and skin allergies are known. All these skin conditions should be presented to a dermatologist.

The cornea is also one of the skin thickenings. Here you can first try to remove some of the corneal thickening with your own measures such as filing or the corneal dissolving agents from the pharmacy. If this is difficult or if it comes to a skin injury, it is time to see the doctor. Occasionally, skin thickening can also occur as a lump. Then a visit to the doctor is definitely recommended, because in addition to benign thickenings, there are still malignant growths that must be treated as soon as possible.

Treatment & Therapy

If the dermatologist was able to make a clear diagnosis, he will initiate what he considers to be an adequate therapy in consultation with the patient. This also usually depends on the cause of the skin thickening, for example, neurodermatitis requires moisturizing of the skin and a sympathetic-systematic treatment.

The treatment of the cornea can usually be carried out by the patient himself by stopping the triggering stimulus and removing the cornea by means of pumice stones, corneal planes or corneal rasps. In addition, there are corneal dissolving substances that can be used, salicylic acid and urea are the agents of choice. They dissolve the connections of the corneal cells so that the degradation is accelerated.

At the same time, the skin thins and becomes permeable to other medicines again. Urea also reduces skin growth and binds water in the layer, which thus becomes smoother and softer.

Salicylic acid has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, skin irritation can heal faster. In rare cases, the thickening of the skin is so strong and visually disturbing that surgical removal is necessary. However, some professions also value calluses as protection in the exercise of their activities, such as gardeners and guitarists.

Outlook & Forecast

In the case of skin thickening, there are not always complaints, so that it does not necessarily have to be treated by a doctor. Due to the thickening of the skin, some patients experience reduced self-esteem. Often the thickening of the skin is a cosmetic deficiency and the affected person feels uncomfortable with the symptom and not attractive. This leads to restrictions in everyday life and sometimes to the termination of social contacts. Although psychological problems rarely arise, they are also possible.

Due to the thickening of the skin, external stimuli can no longer be perceived properly. This can lead to dangerous restrictions, as cold and heat are not properly felt. If the skin thickening occurs due to an allergy or intolerance, it usually disappears when the respective ingredient has been completely broken down by the body. Medical treatment is aimed at avoiding these ingredients or taking certain medications that can prevent the symptom.

In many cases, treatment of skin thickening is possible with a quick success at home. If the thickening of the skin lasts longer and does not disappear by means of self-help, medical advice is necessary. In this case, it may be another disease.


The regeneration of the skin can be supported regardless of the underlying disease. Creams, ointments and water-oil emulsions are used here as basic therapy and at the same time prevention of skin diseases.

What you can do yourself

Since skin thickening can have a variety of causes, they do not have to be treated in every case. A classic cause is, for example, the thickening of the corneal layer, which is also referred to as cornification disorder, but which only serves to protect the skin. This cause of skin thickening does not need to be treated by a doctor, here only the dead corneal layer must be removed with pumice stones, corneal planes or corneal rasps. Substances such as salicylic acid or urea can also prove helpful, as they dissolve connections between the corneal cells and thus accelerate the degradation. Once this layer has been removed, the skin begins to thin again and is again acceptable for other medications.

Urea is particularly helpful for an increased form of skin thickening, as it additionally reduces skin growth and then water is bound to the corneal layer, making the skin smoother and softer. Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is made for a normal case of skin thickening. Since this has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, the skin irritation can heal faster and the skin can thus regenerate better.

Furthermore, it is recommended to avoid severe cold or heat as much as possible. The reason for this is that stimuli can no longer be perceived well enough. As a result, thickening usually disappears if extreme temperatures are avoided.

Website | + posts

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.