DEAR DR. ROACH: Would you please tell me if there is any way to get rid of a porokeratosis? I have lived with one on the bottom of my foot for five years now, and it can be very painful when walking. Doctors aren’t very forthcoming; all they want to do is dig at it every so often and recommend shoes that don’t do any good. — C.P.
ANSWER: A porokeratosis is a benign skin condition that can occur anywhere on the body, but more commonly on an extremity. It appears to be an area of skin atrophy, usually paler than nearby skin, surrounded by a thickened ridge-like border of skin. The diagnosis is made via a skin biopsy.
There are many ways to treat it, so I am concerned that you have been suffering for five years without getting it successfully treated. In addition to surgery, freezing the area with liquid nitrogen is sometimes successful. Medicines like imiquimod (Aldara) and 5-fluorouracil also are effective in many cases. It sounds to me like you should search out a local expert in dermatology in your area.
About 10 percent of the time, these can become cancerous, so regardless of any treatment, they need to be carefully followed.
READERS: The booklet on COPD explains both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, the two elements of COPD, in detail. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 601, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.