Photo Rounds

Thickening of skin on feet

An 11-year-old girl was brought to see her family physician (FP) for thickening of the skin on her feet and hands. She had been seen by many primary care doctors who had prescribed numerous creams that didn’t work well. The child had stopped running during physical education class because of her condition and was embarrassed to take off her shoes in public. No one else in her family had this.

What’s your diagnosis?


The FP recognized this as diffuse palmoplantar keratoderma of the palms and soles. This is an inherited genodermatosis that may be autosomal dominant or sporadic. Palmoplantar keratoderma includes a rare heterogeneous group of disorders that are characterized by thickening of the palms and the soles that can also be an associated feature of some very rare syndromes. The patient in this case had diffuse hyperkeratosis, which can be distributed over most of the plantar surface.

This condition can be differentiated from plantar warts as it is present on more diffuse locations on the palmoplantar surfaces (including palms and soles) and it lacks the black dots of thrombosed capillaries that are seen in plantar warts.

There is no cure for this genetic condition and the goals of treatment are functional and cosmetic improvement. The FP prescribed 12% ammonium lactate as an emollient and keratolytic. The patient applied this twice daily with some symptomatic relief. The family hoped that there would be some genetic treatment for this in the future.

Photos and text for Photo Rounds Friday courtesy of Richard P. Usatine, MD. This case was adapted from: Mayeaux EJ. Plantar warts. In: Usatine R, Smith M, Mayeaux EJ, et al, eds. Color Atlas of Family Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2013:766-770.

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