Acquired keratoderma

Author: Dr Amy Stanway, dermatology registrar, Nottingham, 2005.

What are acquired keratodermas?

Acquired keratoderma are keratodermas that are NOT inherited as a primary genetic condition. They may occur as part of a generalised skin condition (some of which may be inherited) or as a result of another illness.

How does acquired keratoderma present?

Acquired palmoplantar keratoderma is more likely to present in adulthood (compared with inherited keratodermas which usually present in childhood). It presents with thickening of the skin of the palms and/or soles which may be diffuse (involving most of the palms and soles) or focal (localised mainly to pressure areas).

What causes acquired keratoderma?

Some of the causes of acquired keratoderma are shown in the table below.

Inflammatory skin conditions
Circulatory problems
Secondary to inherited conditions that may not usually result in keratoderma
Medications and toxins
  • Iodine
  • Lithium
  • Tegafur
  • Glucan
  • Halogenated weed-killers
  • Arsenic
  • Dioxin
  • Chemotherapeutic agents used in cancer treatment
  • Targeted therapy for BRAF+ melanoma with vemurafenib or dabrafenib
Internal illness
  • Keratoderma climacterum is a keratoderma that usually develops in middle-aged woman. It has been suggested that this is related to the menopause.

Treatment of acquired keratoderma

The following treatments soften the thickened skin and make them less noticeable.

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