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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a dual-board-certified dermatologist with over 90 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


Porokeratosis of the Foot: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Porokeratosis is a relatively uncommon skin condition characterized by disordered keratinization. When it affects the feet, it can be both uncomfortable and visually noticeable. If you or a loved one is dealing with porokeratosis on the foot, understanding the condition can pave the way for effective management and treatment.

Classical lesion of porokeratosis showing thready border as seen under a dermatoscope
Classical lesion of porokeratosis showing thready border as seen under a dermatoscope

What is Porokeratosis?

Porokeratosis refers to a group of skin disorders marked by the appearance of scaly rings or patches. These patches have a slightly raised border that looks like a moat.

Causes of Porokeratosis on the Foot

The exact cause of porokeratosis remains unknown. However, several factors can increase one's susceptibility:

  1. Genetics: A family history of porokeratosis might raise your risk.

  2. Sun Exposure: Prolonged and excessive sun exposure can trigger porokeratosis, especially in genetically predisposed individuals.

  3. Immune System: A weakened immune system, either due to diseases like HIV or medications, can make one vulnerable.

Symptoms to Watch For

The primary symptom of porokeratosis foot is the appearance of:

  • Distinct circular patches with a raised border.

  • Dry or scaly skin within these patches.

  • Mild itching or burning sensation.

Diagnosing Porokeratosis of the Foot

A dermatologist typically diagnoses porokeratosis through a clinical examination. Sometimes, a skin biopsy may be recommended to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis. Histopathology of porokeratosis shows the classical 'parakeratotic column' appearance.

Treatment Options

  1. Topical Treatments: Creams containing salicylic acid, corticosteroids, or retinoids can be prescribed to reduce the scaling and improve the appearance of the skin. At times, diclofenac gel is also added as part of the treatment.

  2. Laser Therapy: Lasers can target and treat abnormal skin cells.

  3. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): This involves using a special light source after applying a light-sensitizing cream to kill the abnormal cells.

  4. Cryotherapy: Freezing the affected areas with liquid nitrogen can help remove the patches.

Prevention Tips

  1. Sun Protection: Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing to minimize sun exposure.

  2. Regular Foot Inspection: Regularly inspect your feet for any abnormalities. Early detection can lead to better outcomes.

  3. Moisturize: Keeping the feet moisturized can prevent skin dryness and reduce the risk of porokeratosis development.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you notice any unusual patches or changes on your foot, it's essential to consult a board-certified dermatologist. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition effectively.


Porokeratosis of the foot, while uncommon, is a treatable condition. Through understanding its causes, symptoms, and available treatments, individuals can take proactive measures to manage and alleviate the disorder.


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