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Follicular Hyperkeratosis (goose flesh or corkscrew hair)

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Hyperkeratosis Back of Arm. GFW Photo.

Hyperkeratosis Back of Arm. GFW Photo

What Is Follicular Hyperkeratosis?

Follicular hyperkeratosis is an abnormal skin condition characterized by disordered overgrowth of the horny layer of the epidermis with horny plugs filling the openings of hair follicles. The plugs look like bumps in hair follicles.

Follicular hyperkeratosis with corkscrew hairs (coiled hairs in the follicles) appears in scurvy, which is advanced vitamin C deficiency.1

Typical  hyperkeratotic papules first appear on the extensor surfaces of the extremities (e.g. the back of upper arms), shoulders, and buttocks.

Phrynoderma is a distinctive form of follicular hyperkeratosis with papule formation in dilated hair follicles believed to be a manifestation of severe malnutrition.

Q: Why does hyperkeratosis develop?

A: Follicular hyperkeratosis develops from lack of necessary nutrients to support healthy skin. Although originally thought to represent only vitamin A deficiency or vitamin C in the case of scurvy, several studies have demonstrated deficiencies of B vitamins and vitamin E. General malnutrition seems to be the strongest association. The clinical picture typically improves with enhanced nutritional status.2

What Is Follicular Hyperkeratosis In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 10th Edition. Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump. 2000. W.B. Saunders Company. []
  2. Maronn M, Allen DM, Esterly NB. Phrynoderma: a manifestation of vitamin A deficiency?… The rest of the story. Pediatr Dermatol. 2005 Jan-Feb;22(1):60-3. []