What is keratoderma and how should it be treated?

Keratoderma, which manifests most frequently as thickening of the palms and soles, can present significant discomfort. Cracks in the skin are as painful as paper cuts and can become infected quickly. The easiest way to treat the cracks is to glue them. Medicinal glue is available at the pharmacy, but even crazy glue works well. Fill the cracks all the way through; do not peel the glue off, wait until new skin under pushes the glue out on its own.

The skin thickening can be treated with home remedies such as Epsom salt or sea salt bath (2 tablespoons per 1/2 gallon of warm water) for 15-20 min. After the bath, I recommend using thick emollients (something like carmol or urea 20% cream, Gold Bond™ Rough and Bumpy Skin, or 10% ichthammol, which are available without a prescription). Those ointments can be applied under cotton gloves to improve drug delivery. A perfect ointment for everyday use is Neutrogena™ Hand Cream Norwegian Formula, but the key is not the product but their regular application to the skin that needs help.

Answer provided by:
Oleg E. Akilov, MD, PhD,
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Director, Cutaneous Lymphoma Program
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine