Hyperkeratosis is typified by a marked thickening of the skin in response to any stimulus, whether it is an oversized show or a shovel. In reality, there are many forms of hyperkeratosis that many people do not even think of as the skin issue. Symptoms of hyperkeratosis can range from corns and calluses to warts to a thickening of the oral membranes to other forms of keratosis such as actinic or seborrheic.
All of these symptoms, in one way or another, feature one thing, a thickening of the skin in an area in response to some stimulus. This is because of another layer of skin, located below the surface skin that contains keratin. This protein works, in conjunction with the body, to ward off the effects of irritation.
For instance, if you wear a size 8 shoe and you have to purchase a size 8 ½ then you will likely experience a form of hyperkeratosis, a corn on your toes. This is a natural defense mechanism caused by the rubbing of the oversized shoe against your toe. In this case, the most obvious cure is to purchase a pair or properly size shoes and let the larger ones go.
A callus is in the same category as a corn as it is a response to a repeated irritation. Let’s say you work with your hands and you must use a saw or shovel much of the day, the chances are good that you will form deep calluses along your palms and fingers and possibly your thumbs. Again, the rule here is that once you stop the irritation, the problem will disappear fairly quickly.
An interesting form of hyperkeratosis is the wart. Almost immediately you can see that this is a form of hyperkeratosis because it does involve a thickening of the skin in an area. A plantars wart, on the foot, is an unusually painful form of this irritation. The key here, though, that this is spread in the form of an infection from one person to another. It is a form of human papillo virus (HPV) and it can be contracted by contact. The key here is if you know a person has warts avoid direct contact and if you will be using common areas where HPV infection may be spread – a gym shower or swimming pool deck – wear clogs and keep your feet covered. Warts, if left untreated, will last several months and will likely go away themselves, although there are some topical treatments that are available over the counter that will help lift them out.