Acquired keratoderma

Author: Dr Amy Stanway, Dermatology Registrar, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 2005.

What is acquired keratoderma?

Acquired keratoderma is a keratoderma that is NOT inherited as a primary genetic condition. It 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).

Acquired keratoderma

What causes acquired keratoderma?

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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