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Pitted keratolysis

Pitted keratolysis is a condition of the skin that affects the soles of the feet and sometimes the palm. It is a bacterial infection that is caused mainly by coryneform bacteria but there are other strains of bacteria that can cause this condition but to a lesser extent.

Common indications of pitted keratolysis include the formation of bunches of miniature perforated pits and foul smell coming from the soles of the feet as well as lesions that appear on any region of the feet.

The bacteria generate an enzyme that eats keratin which is a protein found in the upper skin layer. This will cause the development of groups of superficial craters. The condition is common among people who sweat more and those who wear tight shoes. It usually affects the sole of the foot which is always wet due to contact with water or perspiration.

Pitted keratolysis is not a contagious disease. The bad smell on the soles of foot is caused by sulphur compounds that are produced by the bacteria. Sweating excessively and those who have diabetes are susceptible to develop this condition.



The pits are commonly seen in pressure-bearing areas such as the heels and front area of the foot and can affect both feet.

  • There are clusters of circular pitted areas on the affected site.
  • The pits are close and form large erosion while the shallow erosions are yellow or white in color.
  • The pits are commonly seen in pressure-bearing areas such as the heels and front area of the foot and can affect both feet.
  • People suffering from this condition usually perspire more in the soles and palms.
  • Sometimes, there is minor itchiness and burning sensation.
  • When the soles are wet, the lesions become severe.

Treatment and home remedies of pitted keratolysis

Pitted keratolysis can last for years if not properly treated and there is remission in which the condition can be severe at frequent intervals. The most important part of the treatment is to observe good hygiene and keeping the area of the sole dry.

  • The affected person should avoid using tight-fitting shoes and wear socks for a minimum time. Wear socks made of cotton or socks made out of synthetic material that has good absorbing capabilities. The socks used should be changed often and bring extra socks either at school or at work.
  • Change socks after engaging in strenuous exercises.
  • Shoes should be dry before wearing.
  • When taking a bath, the soles should be cleaned using antibacterial soap and scrub it gently. Once it is dry, apply an anti-perspiring spray on the affected area.
  • Apply topical antibiotics such as fucidin ointment, gel of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin since these are beneficial for pitted keratolysis.

Preventive measures

  • Changing shoes every day and ensure that they are fully dry before wearing.
  • Avoid sharing of personal belongings such as towels and footwear with others.
  • Avoid wearing of boots for a long period of time.
  • Wash the feet at least twice every day using antibacterial cleanser or soap.

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