What is Hyperkeratosis?

Hyperkeratosis is a condition in which the upper layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, thickens abnormally resulting in a dry, rough, and thickened appearance. It has several different forms, with some being more severe than others. The most common type is known as palmoplantar hyperkeratosis, or “keratosis pilaris” for short.

What Causes Hyperkeratosis?

The cause of hyperkeratosis is unknown, although researchers believe it may be due to an underlying medical condition such as an inherited skin disorder or a vitamin deficiency. In some cases, it may also be linked to hormonal changes or the use of certain medications.

What are the Symptoms of Hyperkeratosis?

The most common symptom of hyperkeratosis is rough, scaly patches on the skin that may be gray, red, or yellow. These patches may be painful when rubbed or scratched. Other symptoms may include dry, itchy skin, skin discoloration, or small, raised bumps on the skin.

How is Hyperkeratosis Diagnosed?

Hyperkeratosis is typically diagnosed by a physical examination. The doctor may also take a sample of the skin, known as a biopsy, to check for any underlying medical conditions.

How is Hyperkeratosis Treated?

Treatment for hyperkeratosis typically focuses on reducing the thickness of the skin and providing relief from any associated itching or discomfort. Treatment options include:
  • Moisturizing creams or lotions
  • Corticosteroid creams
  • Vitamin A-based creams
  • Exfoliation (scrubbing the skin using a brush or exfoliating cleanser)
In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe an oral medication or a laser procedure to reduce the thickness of the skin.

Can Hyperkeratosis be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for hyperkeratosis. However, some general measures can be taken to reduce the severity of symptoms. These include avoiding extreme temperatures, using mild soaps and moisturizers, and avoiding skin irritants such as detergents or soaps with fragrances. It’s also important to practice good skin hygiene and to moisturize regularly.