Keratinization is a skin condition in which healthy skin cells dry out and become horny, nail-like tissue. It is often present in children, although it can exist at all ages.
Effects of Keratinization
Heatlhy skin undergoes a regular shedding process in which old, harder skin cells flake off the body to allow for young healthy cells to grow to the surface. When a patient suffers from keratinization, those hard cells become clogged and fail to shed from the skin. This blocks oxygen from reaching the new skin cells, and the skin begins to take a rough, nail-like form.
A patient suffering from keratinization may take oral treatment to restore normal skin cells. One such compound is acitretin (also called soriatane), which regulates the creation of skin cells and reduces the creation of keratinized epithelial (skin) cells. The effects of acitretin are usually felt two to four weeks after a patient begins the medication. Women of child-bearing age are warned that this medication may cause birth defects - women should not become pregnant until two years after stopping usage of acitretin.
Calcipotriol (also called Dovonex) imitates Vitamin D and has shown to be effective in treating keratinaization as well as other psoriasis and skin disorders. Applied directly to affected areas, cream or ointment begins to heal the skin approximately two weeks after the initial application. Other topical treatments exist, including oils, creams, and ointments containing several important compounds: ammonium salt, cysteic acid, cysteine sulfinic acid, and others.
Spas may also treat keratinization with a kind of chemical peel. This peel uses natural plant enzymes to remove keratinized skin cells and allow the healthy skin below to receive more oxygen. The peel is based on natural aromatic extracts, such as horse chestnut, aloe, and camphor extract.