Pitted keratolysis is a skin condition that primarily affects the soles of the feet and, to a lesser extent, the palms of the hands. It is characterized by small, shallow pits or depressions in the skin’s surface. The condition is caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria, particularly Corynebacteria, on the skin.
Clinical features of pitted keratolysis include:
- Pits and Craters: The most distinctive symptom is the presence of small, crater-like pits on the affected skin. These pits can vary in size and may merge together to form larger patches. This is commonly described as small holes on the bottom of the foot.
- Odor: Pitted keratolysis is often associated with a foul odor, which is caused by the byproducts of bacterial metabolism. The bacteria involved in this condition produce sulfur compounds, contributing to the unpleasant smell.
- Affected Areas: While the soles of the feet are the most commonly affected areas, the palms of the hands and other parts of the body with thick skin may also be involved.
- Moist Conditions: The bacteria responsible for pitted keratolysis thrive in warm, moist environments. Consequently, the condition is more common in individuals who sweat excessively or who frequently wear tight, closed-toe shoes.
- Risk Factors: Factors that may increase the risk of developing pitted keratolysis include hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), wearing occlusive footwear, and spending prolonged periods in damp or humid conditions.
This typically involves improving hygiene practices, keeping the affected areas clean and dry, and using antibacterial agents. Topical antibiotics, such as clindamycin or erythromycin, are commonly prescribed to reduce bacterial overgrowth. In some cases, antiperspirants may be recommended to control excessive sweating.
Preventive measures for pitted keratolysis include wearing breathable footwear, changing socks regularly, and keeping feet clean and dry. If you suspect you have pitted keratolysis or have persistent skin issues, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.