Hyperkeratosis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

Hyperkeratosis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

What is Hyperkeratosis, and what causes it? This skin condition can be genetic or the result of external factors on the skin. It can lead to skin being unusually thicker in some places. This is because Hyperkeratosis affects the keratin in skin, hair, and nails.

This protein begins to overproduce as the body responds to inflammation, external pressure, or simply due to genetics. Other causes can result from an overactive immune system or other factors related to the body’s response. 

There are different forms of Hyperkeratosis, and most of the time can be managed. Keep reading to find out how you can prevent Hyperkeratosis from taking control of your skin or how to manage your Hyperkeratosis. 

Types of Hyperkeratosis 

If you aren’t sure whether your skin condition is Hyperkeratosis, consult your dermatologist. Physical examinations are the best way to get a clear idea of whether or not you should be treated for this skin condition or something else. 

Keep in mind that psoriasis and eczema are types of Hyperkeratosis. 

  • Pressure -- Hyperkeratosis can be caused by external factors like extreme pressure, inflammation, or other skin irritants. Hyperkeratosis is the result of the skin defending against these factors and building up keratin as a fortress of skin.  
  • Non-Pressure -- Hyperkeratosis that isn’t caused by external factors is a genetic skin condition. 

There are different forms in which Hyperkeratosis takes: 

  • Sandpaper patches on the skin called Actinic Keratosis are caused by skin exposure to UV light
  • Calluses and Corns are caused by repeated external damage to the skin like friction, rubbing, pressure, and irritation
  • Eczema 
  • A genetic skin disorder called Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis
  • Small, white patches that grow on the inside of the mouth are called Lichen Planus 
  • Plantar Warts 
  • Psoriasis, an immune-response related skin condition that causes redness and swelling in the body that looks like patches, or plaques, on different parts of the skin
  • Warts 


Depending on the form or types of Hyperkeratosis you have, the symptoms that you experience may be different. However, this skin condition always affects the skin and is seen as rough or patchy that looks different from the surrounding skin. 

Small, Dry Patches

Actinic Keratosis is usually seen as small, dry, and scaly patches of skin that have a discolored appearance. The colors range from red, pink, light tan, dark tan, white, flesh-toned, or a combination. The scales can be raised over, unlike normal skin. 

Thick Patches

Calluses and corns are a build-up of keratin, so these are experienced as hard, thick patches that usually appear on areas like the hands, feet, or fingers. Corns are often small and round and are found on the tops or sides of your toes. There are three types of corns: hard, soft, and seed. 

Rash-Like Appearance 

Eczema appears as itchy, swollen, and rash-like patches on the skin. These patches can appear anywhere on the body and look different from person to person. Dryness also accompanies these patches and it can often crust or swell. There is no cure for this skin condition, but it can be managed over time. Knowing your triggers often helps. 

Genetic Skin Conditions 

Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis is a genetic skin condition that is seen from birth. This condition is usually red and inflamed and involves small, severe blisters. As those with Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis age, they often experience a lessening of these symptoms, but the skin thickens over time, becomes darker than usual, and develops an odor. 

Psoriasis symptoms are typically associated with raised plaques or patches on specific areas of the skin that itch, burn, or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body and can differ from person to person. 

Dark Patches 

Seborrheic Keratosis appears as brown or black patches of skin that look frightening but are completely benign. These patches appear on large areas like the face, neck, shoulders, and back. This skin condition is one of the most common in adults. 

Tiny Bumps 

Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition that is associated with the tiny bumps on the skin that appear on legs, thighs, upper arms, and glutes. This build-up of protein feels rough but is harmless. 

Ask your dermatologist for more information and treatment options.

Treatment Options 

Different treatment options depend on your skin condition and its severity. Some are treatable with a change in routines, while others are manageable and will not disappear completely. 

Change Your Habits

Corns and Calluses are an example of a skin condition that may go away if you change your routines or remove external forces that may contribute to the build-up of keratin in your skin. 

Things like avoiding shoes that cause irritation and stress or avoiding rough surfaces that avoid trauma to the skin may lessen this skin condition. 

Moisturizing helps heal this as well. 

Natural At-Home Remedies

You may be able to treat your corn or callus at home if you are not experiencing any complications. Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes, wet a pumice stone, and gently move it across your corn or callus to file it down.

Beware not to over-file because that could lead to infection. Apply a moisturizer afterward. 

If you are experiencing severe calluses and corns, sometimes they may be exfoliated or filed down with the help of a professional. 


Eczema is usually a condition that is managed and may go away in time or can be prevented from future flare-ups. Topical corticosteroids help manage things like itchiness. Following good moisturizing and bathing routines makes a difference with this skin condition. 

Professional Treatment 

Actinic Keratosis is often treated with a medical professional by burning, freezing, or peeling off any skin lesions or bumps. These can then fall off and disappear. Seborrheic Keratosis is treated with liquid nitrogen by a medical professional. Other treatments include cutting off the patches. 

Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis is an incurable skin condition. Vitamin A can sometimes lessen symptoms but should be recommended by a medical professional. 

Topical treatments are often recommended to manage this skin condition, but in severe cases, injection therapy, oral medications, and light therapy are used to treat this condition. 

Heal Naturally

Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that often resolves on its own. There are ways that the skin’s appearance can improve with the help of a dermatologist and routine changes. 

For instance, exfoliation is known to help the appearance of Keratosis Pilaris. 

When Should You See A Doctor?

If you are unsure about your skin condition, it’s best to see a dermatologist diagnose and treat your skin condition. 

Some skin conditions may also indicate precancerous growths and may have to be examined and removed for your safety. Some skin conditions, such as eczema, can be unmanageable without help. 

If skin appears to be pus-filled, infected, red, or swollen, seek medical attention immediately. When you schedule an appointment, you may be asked about your family and personal medical history. 

Tips To Manage Hyperkeratosis 

These tips can make a difference in your skin condition: 

  • Avoid walking barefoot to avoid fungus in areas such as gyms, locker rooms, pools, and saunas. 
  • Wear well-fitting shoes to prevent corns or calluses. If you have developed them, wear extra padding on these areas. 
  • Avoid highly fragranced products. 
  • Always wear protective clothing and sunscreen with high SPF.
  • Smoking cigarettes often results in conditions like corns and calluses. Additionally, it may also exacerbate other skin conditions.  

What Does This Mean For you?

Hyperkeratosis is a skin condition that could affect your life in several ways depending on the severity of your skin condition of which one you have. To improve your quality of life, it is best to start with a diagnosis to help make treatment and management more manageable for you. 

At-home and in-office treatments are an option for some people who have Hyperkeratosis. 

Treatments that you can try include wearing sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and avoiding environmental triggers such as harsh temperatures or harsh chemicals. 

If your skin condition includes bumps, warts, or calluses, you may treat the skin condition in its entirety by getting it removed by a medical professional. Knowing what is happening to your skin is empowering and gives you the steps you need to take care of it the way it needs to heal. 

For more information on how to take care of skin and achieve a healthy, beautiful complexion, see our blog for more guides, routines, and tips. 



Psoriasis: Causes, Triggers and Treatments | Psoriasis 

Lichen Planus | Hopkins Medicine

Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis | Medline Plus 

Eczema Symptoms & Causes | National Eczema  

Corns and Calluses: Symptoms, Treatment, Care Tips, Prevention | Cleveland Clinic 

Actinic Keratosis | The Skin Cancer Foundation