Hyperkeratosis is a skin condition where the outer layer of skin is thickened. When the body overproduces keratin as a defense mechanism against irritation, infection and chronic inflammation, hyperkeratosis occurs. This can manifest in different types of hyperkeratosis such as corns, calluses, lichen planus, actinic ketartosis and seborrheic keratosis. Hyperkeratosis mostly affects the elbow, knees and the soles of the feet; places which are subject to friction. Diagnosis can be made easily by looking at the affected skin and a biopsy is not necessary. Although hyperkeratosis is not painful it can be unsightly. Hyperkeratosis can be prevented in a number of ways. To avoid hyperkeratosis in your elbows don’t rest on your elbows unless you are leaning upon a cushioned surface. This also applies to your knees; avoid kneeling on hard surfaces to prevent hyperkeratosis from forming there. To avoid hyperkeratosis occurring on your feet in the form of corns or calluses, avoid subjecting your feet to friction. Wearing tight fitting shoes will cause unnecessary friction. Wear comfortable shoes and avoid shoes that don’t fit properly. Ensure you choose shoes that fit correctly and allow your feet to have space inside your shoes. Avoid walking in bare feet as the ground causes friction and puts you at risk of hyperkeratosis. Even when you are at the pool or in your house, ensure that you wear shoes or sandals to prevent hyperkeratosis. The way you walk can cause hyperkeratosis in the form of corns or calluses. Adjust your walking style to prevent one area, such as the sides of your feet, from bearing all of the pressure. Look at a pair of older shoes and take note of where you have worn them down. The shoe should be worn down evenly all over. If not, you may be shifting your weight unevenly as you walk, which will lead to hyperkeratosis forming. Consult a podiatrist who can provide footwear or an insole that readjusts your foot position.
Do not subject your body to irritating chemicals. The chemicals tend to affect your feet by harming the skin. As a defense measure, your skin produces keratin to counter the irritation and return the normal hardness of the skin. Harsh soaps are also not good for the skin as they irritate it. Wintertime can be detrimental to hyperkeratosis. Keep the skin moisturised and avoid your skin drying out. Refrain from wearing tight clothing if you can. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. Avoid exposing your skin to elements such as the cold and wind as this will cause it to dry out and will exacerbate conditions of hyperkeratosis such as keratosis pilaris.
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