Snake skin has scales that serve various functions and change over the life cycle of the snake. Snake skin and scales help to retain moisture, serve as a form of camouflage, and are used for traction. The scales contain keratin, which makes them hard and shiny; keratin is also found in the hair, hooves, and horns of mammals.
Snake skin is traditionally used for various skin disorders, such as abscesses, acne, boils, itching, and sores. Human research is limited.
Snake skin, in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs and injections of sodium iodide into the eye, has been examined as a treatment for corneal opacity, a condition in which the cornea (the transparent structure of the eye) becomes opaque, meaning light may not pass though efficiently. Studies employing snake skin alone are necessary in order to determine if it has any effect on this condition.
Keratin, snake slough.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Eye disorders (corneal opacity)
Snake skin has been used as part of a combination of other traditional Chinese herbs and an injection of sodium iodide in a study examining its effect on corneal opacity (a condition in which the transparent structure of the eye becomes opaque). Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.