Do you have any patches of thick, hard skin on your feet? If so, you may be suffering from hyperkeratosis. This is a common condition that occurs when the outer layer of skin becomes thicker than normal in some areas.
The excessive thickening of the skin on your feet is due to an overgrowth of keratin. This tough, fibrous protein is hugely important, as it helps to protect your skin and prevent pathogens from entering your body. However, excessive amounts of keratin can be problematic for your feet.
Keratin overgrowth frequently affects the bottom of the foot, known as the plantar surface. This excess keratin can build up and cause plantar hyperkeratosis, a condition where the thickened skin on the bottom of the foot becomes hard and cracked. Plantar hyperkeratosis can be painful and make it difficult to walk.
To prevent plantar hyperkeratosis, it is important to keep any excess keratin growth under control. You can do this by exfoliating regularly and keeping your feet moisturised.
If you have excessively thick skin, you may have difficulties sensing changes in temperature and terrain. You may also take longer to notice a foot injury or infection. Additionally, walking may become uncomfortable and you may develop a limp.
Plantar hyperkeratosis is a condition that can occur when the soles of your feet are subject to too much pressure. This can happen if you wear ill-fitting shoes that rub and pinch your feet. The excessive pressure can cause the skin to produce too much keratin, resulting in the formation of thick, hard skin on the pressure points of the feet, such as the ball and heel.
Hyperkeratosis is the hardening and thickening of the skin in response to stimuli such as pressure, friction, or other irritants. This can be seen as the skin’s natural defence mechanism to protect itself from further damage. ScienceDirect explains. In a nutshell, Your skin is your body’s natural protection against damage. However, excessively thick areas of skin can lead to problems with your feet.
Hyperkeratosis can lead to Calluses and Corns
If you have plantar hyperkeratosis, you may get calluses or corns. They often show up on the pressure points.
- Calluses are hardened, thickened areas of skin that lack a well-defined border. They’re commonly yellowish or brown. Calluses can form on the hands, feet, and other areas of the body where there is repeated friction or pressure.
- Corns are small outgrowths of hard skin that often have a tough keratin plug at the centre. They can appear on the soles of the feet and are then referred to as seed corns.
Plantar hyperkeratotic lesions, such as calluses and corns, are a common problem among mature adults. The ageing process causes the skin to become less supple and well-cushioned, making it more susceptible to these types of lesions. ScienceDirect estimates that ’30–65% of people aged over 65 years are affected by them.
It is quite common for women to develop calluses and corns on their feet from wearing high heels or other constrictive shoes. This can be quite painful, especially if the corns are located on pressure points. To avoid this problem, it is advisable to choose footwear that is more comfortable and does not put unnecessary strain on the feet.
Severe Hyperkeratosis can be debilitating
If you suffer from plantar hyperkeratosis, you know how difficult and painful it can be. Your feet may look like a patchwork of corns and calluses, with deep cracks that make your skin susceptible to infection.
There are many potential causes of this condition, such as fungal infections, chronic eczema, psoriasis, or reactive arthritis. A biopsy may help health professionals to reach a diagnosis.
Treatment options vary depending on the cause but may include medication, surgery, or other therapies. If you suffer from plantar hyperkeratosis, it is important to see a foot and skin specialist to determine the best course of treatment for you.
A case of severe plantar hyperkeratosis can be treated in various ways depending on the underlying cause. Common treatments include corticosteroid creams to alleviate scaly and irritated skin, urea creams to break down keratin build-up, and debridement to remove thickened skin with a scalpel.
If you think you may be suffering from hyperkeratosis, contact us today!