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Pitted Keratolysis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is pitted keratolysis (PK)?

PK is a bacterial infection of the skin on the bottom of your feet or palms of your hands. It is usually caused by large amounts of moisture. You may be at risk for PK if your feet or hands sweat more than usual. You may also be at risk if you wear tight shoes or gloves for long periods of time, or you live in a humid place.

What are the signs and symptoms of PK?

You may have small cracks, pits, or holes in the bottom of your feet or palms. Your feet or palms may burn or itch. If PK affects your feet, your feet and shoes may smell bad.

How is PK treated and managed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your feet or palms. You may need antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics may be given as a pill or a cream. You may also need ointments to decrease foot or palm moisture and help your skin heal. You may need other treatments to help decrease foot or palm sweating. Do the following to manage and prevent PK:

  • Wash your feet and hands with antibacterial soap as directed. This will prevent the bacteria from spreading and decrease odor.
  • Change your socks 2 to 3 times each day. This will help keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Wear moisture-wicking synthetic socks. These socks will help keep your feet dry. Ask your healthcare provider where to buy these socks.
  • Let your shoes air-dry every day. This will help decrease moisture in your shoes. If possible, remove your shoes 2 times each day and let them dry.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms get worse or do not go away in 3 weeks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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