Hyperkeratosis is a condition marked by thickening of the outermost layer of a person’s skin. The manner in which a person treats hyperkeratosis may depend on its form. For example, a person may use moisturizers to deal with thickened skin at home, but may need a doctor's help for dealing with corns, calluses, and warts. A doctor may prescribe special creams and ointments for dealing with this condition in some of its forms. Additionally, bathing in bath oil may help improve minor forms of the condition.
Hyperkeratosis often develops when the skin attempts to protect itself from constant friction. For example, a person who wears shoes that are too tight may develop corns on his feet while a person who handles tools on a regular basis may develop callouses. Sometimes the thickened skin develops as the body works to defend itself from inflammation, irritation, and even from infection. In some cases, the causes of the thickened skin are unknown, and some people seem to inherit it.
Often, people with minor forms of hyperkeratosis treat the condition at home. For example, a person who develops roughened skin on his knuckles or elbows may soak the rough patches in moisturizing solutions and use lotions and creams to try to soften the dry, roughened skin. An individual who has calluses and corns may also soak and moisturize his skin, but may require a doctor to remove calluses and shave down corns. Though there are some over-the-counter preparations that are marketed as treatments for corns and calluses, they typically contain chemicals that can irritate or even damage the skin. It is wise to seek a doctor’s advice before using such preparations.
Sometimes hyperkeratosis appears in the form of warts, which are small bumps caused by a virus. The virus can be spread by skin-to-skin contact and may even be picked up by sharing footwear or walking barefoot in a locker room. Typically, people are advised to seek a doctor's advice when treating warts. A doctor may recommend a chemical treatment, such as the application of salicylic acid, or he may use liquid nitrogen to freeze them off. Warts can be cut out and burned off as well, but these methods of removal may cause scarring.
When hyperkeratosis takes the form of a skin condition such as chronic eczema, which is marked by dry, itchy, thick skin, prescription medication may provide the most effective treatment. For example, eczema may be treated with topical steroids. On the other hand, doctors may freeze, burn, or scrape seborrheic keratoses growths, which are benign, round or oval-shaped growths, from the skin.