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Scales are a visible peeling or flaking of outer skin layers. These layers are called the stratum corneum.


Scales may be caused by dry skin, certain inflammatory skin conditions, or infections. Eczema, ringworm, and psoriasis are examples of skin disorders with scales.

Alternative Names

Skin flaking


High WA, Tomasini CF, Argenziano G, Zalaudek I. Basic principles of dermatology. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 1.

Review Date 4/14/2015

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.