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Paediatrics

Paediatrics Paediatrics

Hyperkeratosis

The epidermis is made up of several strata or layers. The cells with reproductive capacity are located in the innermost layer, called the basal layer.  As they multiply, these cells reach the surface and are filled with keratin (a structural protein of the skin, hair and nails). When they reach the outermost layer or stratum corneum, they are eliminated (flaking process). Therefore, in 6 or 8 weeks the skin cells have been completely renewed. When there is an increased production rate in the cells or a reduction in their elimination, thickening of the stratum corneum occurs, which is known as hyperkeratosis.

How does it occur?

This hyperkeratosis is generally a defence mechanism to avoid damage to the innermost layers of the skin. For instance, it can be due to constant rubbing and irritation, as in the case of hardness or calluses on the hands and feet; infections, such as warts; chronic eczema or dry skin; chronic inflammation as in the case of psoriasis, where psoriatic plaques originate; genetic disorders, such as ichthyosis, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Most hyperkeratoses are asymptomatic. Although eczematous skin may cause itching and hardness, calluses and warts may cause pain. A common problem with hyperkeratosis is aesthetics.

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