Thick Skin

I always thought that being thick skinned meant that you didn’t upset easily when ridiculed. There is however another meaning – when the thickness of the skin actually increases.

People with eczema often develop thick skin – and it’s not because of the hard time their friends can give them, it is the physical result of the skin protecting itself from trauma.

It is not the eczema itself that will cause the skin to thicken but rather the continuous scratching and rubbing. Over time the skin protects itself from this repeated trauma by producing more keratin (the tough protective protein found in skin cells).

This process is called keratinization and leads to lichenification of the skin. In simple terms lichenification is when the skin becomes leathery, scaly and thick resulting in over exaggeration of the normal skin furrows and grooves.

So yes, people with eczema do often develop thick skin because the skin protects itself from the trauma of the scratching by laying down extra, tougher layers.

Mel Sinclair, RN