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 What is hyperkeratosis?

Hyperkeratosis is a thickening of the outer layer of skin, producing a tough, often dry area that may be discolored. Hyperkeratosis can trigger localized hyperpigmentation in the stratum corneum of the epidermis, along with an increased production of protective keratin. Common areas for hyperkeratosis include the elbows and knees, as well as the feet, hands and neck.

Ichthyosis is a form of hyperkeratosis that is an inherited condition where the skin appears dry and scaly. Hyperkeratosis can be treated and managed; however, there is no cure.

 What causes hyperkeratosis?

Hyperkeratosis appears in areas that are prone to irritation, resulting in overproduction of keratin in the epidermal layer of the skin. Keratin is a protein that is part of the structural matrix of the skin (along with collagen and elastin), providing strength and water resistance to the outer layer. Hyperkeratosis is exacerbated with continued irritation and dehydration of the areas.

 How is hyperkeratosis treated? How does it work?

Hyperkeratosis can be treated by removing the thickened layer of skin (containing keratin) to be replaced with a normalized layer of cells. Areas of hyperkeratosis can be treated topically or surgically, depending on the degree of thickness. The thickened layer of skin can be reduced during maintenance and reduction of irritation. Hyperpigmentation can be treated at the same time.

Keratolysis involves use of a chemical peel to remove the top dermal layer. Hyperkeratolysis and ichthyosis can be treated with gentle peels of hydroxy acids (alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids), depending on the extent of the condition. Hyperpigmentation associated with hyperkeratosis can be effectively treated by combining a strategy to stimulate melanocyte degeneration and promote skin repair through hydration and collagen production.

Natural peels such as the hydroxy acids promote keratolysis (exfoliation) which stimulates the natural mechanisms to shed the epidermal layer (desquamation) and thereby reduce pigmentation variance. Hydroxy acids stimulate collagen synthesis for repair and rejuvenation of the underlying tissues.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) - Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and it is the preferred form of AHA in topical applications because it is a small, water-soluble molecule, better able to penetrate the epidermal layer. In doing so, it supports hydration of the underlying cells for continued rejuvenation effects of enhanced texture and tone.

High concentrations of glycolic acid can cause burns and irritation. KAVI Glycolic Acid products are available in highly purified therapeutic concentrations and contain a buffered formulation to reduce the risk of burns. All KAVI Glycolic Acid treatments are prepared with naturally soothing witch hazel to reduce inflammation (instead of SD alcohol which can dehydrate the tissues). For more information on choosing the appropriate glycolic acid product for your skin needs, click here.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) - Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is the preferred form of BHA that is effective in penetrating the epithelial layer through the pores to effect keratolysis. Salicylic acid is extracted from the bark of the willow tree and provides an antiseptic benefit to treat chronic conditions such as ichthyosis. For more information on choosing the appropriate salicylic acid product for your skin needs, click here.

As with all hydroxy acids, prolonged exposure and high concentrations of salicylic acid can cause burns and irritation. KAVI Salicylic Acid products are prepared with soothing peppermint oil and produce sustained effects after treatment. For a comparison of alpha and hydroxy acid formulations, click here.

 What can I expect from treatment?

Depending on the type of treatment and the active ingredients in the product, superficial to deep exfoliation can be produced with hydroxy acid peels. Treatment cycles typically run six to eight weeks. Dryness and sensitivity to sunlight are common side effects to glycolic acid treatment, and regular use of moisturizers and sun block applications are recommended. Maintenance regimens that include KAVI serums, cleansers, and moisturizers promote sustained results and help maintain healthy dermal function. All KAVI products are formulated with natural ingredients that invigorate cellular processes to safely and effectively restore your skin's natural balance and beauty.

 What are other treatment options?

Peeling agents are the preferred method of treatment for hyperkeratosis. Other options address deep localized areas which may affect daily function (such as hyperkeratotic areas on the foot or hands). In these cases, surgery is required to excise the thickened tissue, followed by appropriate wound management procedures.

 How can I prevent hyperkeratosis?

After removal of the thickened epithelial layer, continued monitoring and maintenance are required to minimize the hyperkeratotic condition and restore the dermal layer. Regular application of sunblocks and moisturizers to minimize irritation and to maintain softened skin is a recommended practice. Since hyperkeratosis must be managed (and cannot be cured), a strategy of rejuvenation and hydration, combined with restoring melanocyte balance will promote healthy structural function to sustain natural tone and texture.

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