Treating Pitted Keratolysis

Pitted keratolysis is a common foot condition characterized by the formation of small, shallow pits on the soles of the feet. While it may not be a serious medical condition, it can be bothersome and affect your daily activities. Pitted keratolysis primarily occurs due to the overgrowth of bacteria, specifically Corynebacterium species, in the moist and warm environment of the feet. This condition is more prevalent in individuals who sweat excessively, wear tight footwear, or have compromised immune systems. The bacteria break down the keratin protein found in the outer layer of the skin, leading to the formation of characteristic pits.

Common Symptoms:

  • Small, shallow pits on the soles of the feet.
  • Unpleasant odor from the affected area.
  • Whitish, macerated appearance of the skin.
  • Itching or discomfort.


  • Wash your feet thoroughly with an antibacterial soap, paying special attention to the affected areas. Dry them thoroughly afterward, especially between the toes. Change your socks frequently, preferably daily, to maintain dryness. Avoid wearing tight or non-breathable shoes that can create a damp environment.
  • Over-the-counter antibacterial soaps or solutions containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, triclosan, salicylic acid,  or chlorhexidine can be effective in reducing bacterial growth.
  • Applying an aluminum chloride solution to the affected areas can help control excessive sweating, which in turn reduces the favorable environment for bacterial growth.
  • Podiatrists often recommend using antibacterial powders or sprays containing ingredients like clindamycin or erythromycin. Apply the product to your feet, focusing on the affected areas, before putting on socks or shoes.
  • In severe cases or when other treatment options fail, your podiatrist may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics, such as erythromycin or clindamycin, to combat the bacterial infection.

Preventive Measures:

  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Choose shoes made of breathable materials.
  • Rotate your footwear to allow them to dry thoroughly.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public places.

Pitted keratolysis may be an annoying foot condition, but with proper care and treatment, you can manage it. By practicing good foot hygiene, using appropriate antibacterial agents, and taking preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the bacterial overgrowth and alleviate the associated symptoms. Remember, consulting a podiatrist is crucial for severe or persistent cases to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Take care of your feet, and step forward with confidence and comfort!

Clifton Ringwood