Keratin is the type of protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. Hyperkeratosis refers to the increased thickness of the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the skin. It is most frequently due to chronic physical or chemical damage such as friction or the use of strong soaps or anything applied to skin which is not pH balanced. It can also occur as a side-effect of different drugs, including chemotherapy[i].
Treatment options vary, focusing on avoiding skin dryness and adding agents to break down the excess keratin [ii].
Keratosis pilaris a very common type of hyperkeratosis. It presents as small bumps on the hair follicles which may be red in appearance. It runs in families due to a genetic difference in the structure of the hair follicle and production of keratin. It is also described as having an appearance resembling gooseflesh. Areas most likely to be affected are the upper arms, upper legs, and buttocks. It is usually a painless condition but may be associated with being mildly itchy.
Chronic eczema: Eczema is a condition in which patches of dry, scaly skin develop. Often the cause is unknown. Eczema is believed to be the result of genetic or environmental causes.
Actinic keratosis: These are usually small, reddish, scaly bumps that emerge after exposure to too much ultraviolet light. Sun exposure is the most common culprit. Actinic keratosis means you have precancerous growths. A dermatologist should inspect them.
Seborrheic keratosis: These small brown or black patches usually appear on the face, neck, shoulders, and back. They’re noncancerous, but often look suspicious. This is one of the most common benign skin growths that develop in adults.
Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis: This condition can be seen in newborns with red skin and blistering.
Follicular hyperkeratosis: Also known as inverted follicular hyperkeratosis, this condition presents as a single bump, often on the face, of middle-aged or older adults. These growths are benign (noncancerous), but they often look like cancerous lesions.
Psoriasis: This inflammatory disease commonly causes hyperkeratotic, scaly silver plaques, or scales, on the skin.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence providing a link between food allergies and intolerances to keratosis pilaris. For some, eliminating gluten from their diet caused their keratosis pilaris to improve. However, this may only work for certain groups of people, as dietary implications may be different from person to person for many reasons. It may be worth seeking nutritional therapy advice to find the root cause of the issue and to address the person’s unique gut health status.
Generally speaking, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can support overall health, which includes good skin health.
Vitamin A from fish oil supplements has been shown to help many people with Keratosis Pilaris, as it helps with controlling skin cell replication.
Keep skin hydrated, particularly after a bath or shower or swimming session
Hot water and exposure to water for long periods can irritate keratosis pilaris. Consider taking lukewarm showers or baths and limiting the amount of time you spend bathing. consider opting for looser fitting tops and pants.
The friction from tight clothes may increase the symptoms of keratosis pilaris.
Gentle exfoliation can help improve the appearance and feel of the skin, especially in the areas where keratosis pilaris is most often found.
Consider using a humidifier to help add moisture to your home, and consequently, your skin.
Topical applications: products containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, urea, lactic acid and topical retinoid may help to break down keratin. Please use these in diluted formulations only, as these ingredients can be quite potent.
Treatments such as laser treatment or microdermabrasion may also improve appearance. However, it is not a long-term cure.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.