Hyperkeratosis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


The following medical article deals with hyperkeratosis and its causes. In addition, treatment options and preventive measures of the disease are shown.

What is hyperkeratosis?

Schematic representation of the anatomy and structure of the skin. The skin is a sensitive organ. Daily care and medical precautions help against skin aging and skin diseases. Click to enlarge.

Hyperkeratosis is a thickening of the skin caused by an overproduction of keratin . Thickening of the skin is also caused by friction, pressure or strength exercises.

Hyperkeratosis is also triggered by exposure to skin, eczema , warts , and UV radiation. However, in many cases it is very easy to treat. A sensitive skin reaction can also be caused by chronic inflammation, or infections, or by exposure to sunlight or chemicals. The hyperkeratosis can also be caused by an external influence, e.g. B. make noticeable by a congenital disorder.

The stratum corneum normally takes on a protective role. However, various causes can lead to a disorder and the cornea then multiplies. Hyperkeratosis is also caused by shoes that are too tight or by physical work. In addition, movements on body parts that can cause calluses are not healthy for the body. The thickenings on the skin can vary in size.


Hyperkeratosis is often referred to as a form of keratosis. Keratin is overproduced. This is associated with an abnormality in the keratin structure, the corneal layer thickens very noticeably. The thickening develops as a result of constant pressure and other effects on the skin.

Then the skin reacts through the increased creatine to compensate for this pressure. In this case, the thickenings are also called calluses and are usually only an external problem. Warts, which are caused by infections, also collect individual thickenings under the skin.

A similar reaction occurs with eczema. However, these then usually cause inflammation. This often leads to discoloration of the skin. Small dots form in keratosis, which are a reaction to UV light. These carry the risk that skin cancer can develop further.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Hyperkeratosis causes painful calluses to develop on various parts of the body . Excessive keratinization of the skin can be very painful and restrict movement . Occasionally, additional nodules or warts form as the disease progresses . Severe skin thickening makes the affected area appear almost paralyzed and insensitive to touch.

If the symptoms occur on the feet, pressure points and bruises can develop. If the affected leg continues to bear weight, there is a risk that the skin areas will tear and scar, which is associated with severe pain and further thickening of the skin. Externally, hyperkeratosis can primarily be recognized by the visible changes in the skin.

Those affected first notice a slight thickening, which increases rapidly and often spreads to surrounding areas of the body. The affected areas of skin may redden or become very warm. Circulatory disorders are also possible. In extreme cases, hyperkeratosis can degenerate and cause tumors or malignant skin changes.

If the course is positive, the thickening of the skin will remain for years without being a major burden for the person affected. There are usually no other symptoms. However, if the symptoms are caused by eczema , a painful infection can occur in the area of ​​cornification.

Diagnosis & History

Depending on the cause, hyperkeratosis is diagnosed. Warts and calluses in particular can be very painful for those affected. Other people, however, only see a distinction from the rest of the skin.

If the hyperkeratosis develops without a reason worth mentioning, then this is already present at birth, so it is a congenital disorder. This is usually accompanied by other symptoms. Depending on the nature of the symptoms, the doctor will ask additional questions during the exam to make an accurate diagnosis. Questions about family history or allergies are also asked.

If the patient is exposed to sunlight for a longer period of time, the question arises as to what happens next. In many cases, the doctor can already tell from the symptoms and from questions about the hyperkeratosis which diagnosis needs to be made. If there is eczema in connection with an allergy, then a corresponding test is carried out. Often it is necessary to do a biopsy . A small test is carried out on the skin, which is examined in detail in the laboratory. In children, it is usually a congenital hyperkeratosis.


Hyperkeratosis primarily leads to thickening of the skin. Although this is an unpleasant symptom, it can be treated relatively well and easily, so that there are no further complications for the patient. Warts and calluses appear, which can be associated with pain.

The thickening of the skin can also lead to inferiority complexes or reduced self-esteem, so that those affected feel ashamed of the symptoms and no longer feel comfortable with their own bodies. It is not uncommon for the symptoms to also appear on the feet, which can lead to pain when walking. In many cases, normal activities are also restricted.

The treatment of hyperkeratosis always depends on its cause and usually proceeds without complications. Creams and ointments are mainly used for this. Infection or inflammation can be treated with the help of antibiotics. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the hyperkeratosis. After the treatment, the symptoms disappear completely and there are no further complications. Life expectancy is not limited by the disease.

When should you go to the doctor?

If excessive keratinization of the skin is noticed, hyperkeratosis may be the cause. A doctor’s visit is indicated if further complaints appear or the symptoms persist over a longer period of time. Calluses, warts and other skin changes that cannot be traced back to an identifiable cause always require medical clarification. If bleeding, pain or pressure points occur as a result of the thickening of the skin, a doctor must be consulted. Even with restrictions in everyday life, the person concerned should speak to a doctor.

If the hyperkeratosis remains untreated, pigment disorders can occur, which in turn can cause skin cancer. Any skin changes should therefore be clarified in any case. If the keratosis causes psychological problems, a therapist must be spoken to. Even after successful treatment, skin changes can remain and, in extreme cases, degenerate. For this reason, patients should regularly visit their family doctor or a dermatologist after completing the therapy . If a recurrence is suspected, it is best to inform the doctor responsible immediately.

Treatment & Therapy

Of course, the treatment methodology depends on the type and cause of the keratosis. If the affected person has calluses on their feet, make sure they wear suitable shoes, insoles or plasters can also help in this case.

The thickened skin areas should be relieved in the first place. Under no circumstances should you carry out a treatment yourself, an expert should always look at this and decide what to do. Warts also need to be treated by a doctor. There are different methods for this. Freezing with a special liquid, or destruction with a laser or removing the calluses or warts would be different treatment options.

If treatment fails, new warts will form. Then it needs to be repeated. These can also be dealt with through a guide, but this procedure is very lengthy. A combination of medical and personal treatment makes the most sense, e.g. B. by patches or creams. Cortisone ointments are usually used for chronic eczema .

Outlook & Forecast

Hyperkeratosis can be treated in many ways. The prospect of a cure is given, but is not achieved in every patient. In some cases, a few steps taken by the patient on their own initiative are sufficient for a favorable prognosis to achieve relief or freedom from symptoms.

Patients with a thickened epidermis have a good prognosis if they consult a doctor early and independently pursue various therapeutic approaches. They include intensive care of the feet, adequate hydration, as well as choosing the right footwear and reducing stress on the feet. Phases of rest and protection are necessary so that the skin has a chance to regenerate. In addition, medication can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Some patients heal with the administration of medication and ointments.

If the hyperkeratosis is severe and the living conditions are not optimized according to the needs of the organism, the prognosis worsens. Blemishes or warts are surgically treated or removed. Nevertheless, new skin changes can occur at any time if the cause has not been changed. Especially with warts, there is an increased number of new ones. The process of a permanent cure is lengthy, but would still be possible.


There are forms of hyperkeratosis that can be avoided very easily. These include calluses on the feet. By making a targeted choice of shoes, those affected can ensure that they do not form again. To prevent warts from appearing, you should never go barefoot in the bath or shower. In the case of allergens, direct contact should be avoided. The affected person also prevents actinic keratosis with sufficient UV protection.

↳ More information: Home remedies for warts


In the case of hyperkeratosis, the first thing to do is to quickly diagnose it and then treat it, so that there are no further complications or symptoms of this disease. Hyperkeratosis also cannot heal on its own, so that the person affected is always dependent on medical treatment by a doctor. In most cases, however, the disease can be treated relatively easily and also through self-help measures.

Simple plasters or wearing the right shoes can also significantly alleviate the symptoms of hyperkeratosis and even make them disappear completely. However, professional insoles may also be necessary to alleviate the symptoms of hyperkeratosis. Warts can also be removed relatively easily, with no further aftercare required. In rare cases, those affected have to rely on the application of creams.

It is important to ensure that the dosage is correct and that it is applied regularly so that the skin complaints disappear completely. Since this disease can also lead to psychological upsets or depression, psychological treatment is also necessary in some cases. However, the life expectancy of those affected is not negatively affected by hyperkeratosis.

You can do that yourself

Some forms of hyperkeratosis can be avoided directly and also limited with self-help measures. However, this does not apply to the disease in general.

As a rule, wearing comfortable shoes can have a positive effect on the disease and directly avoid the appearance of calluses on the feet. Likewise, the affected person should always pay attention to proper hygiene and thus not step barefoot on the floor in public areas of bathrooms or showers. Simple slippers can prevent the transmission of the infection. If the symptoms occur due to an allergy, contact with the allergen should be avoided. Sufficient sun protection should also always be applied if there is direct contact with the sun. The disease significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. Those affected should therefore regularly be examined by a dermatologistto detect and remove possible tumors at an early stage. In this way, further complications can be avoided.

In the case of psychological problems, self-confidence can be significantly increased by talking to friends or relatives. As a rule, however, the infections can always be treated with medication.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.