3 Things You Need To Know About Knuckle Pads

Heloderma, also called knuckle pads, is a skin condition that is characterized by the development of fibrous growths on the skin that covers the knuckles. Here are three things you need to know about knuckle pads.

What are the signs of knuckle pads?

If you develop knuckle pads, you'll see well-defined growths on the skin that covers your knuckles. The growths usually develop individually, so it can take years for all of your knuckles to become affected. Generally, only the knuckles of the fingers are affected, though in very rare cases, knuckle pads can develop on the thumbs or on the toes.

These growths are round and fibrous and look similar to calluses. Over time, your knuckle pads can grow to diameters as large as 15 millimeters. They can be hyperpigmented (darker than the rest of your skin) or hypopigmented (lighter than the rest of your skin).

Why do knuckle pads develop?

Knuckle pads can develop for multiple reasons. Repetitive trauma is a common cause of knuckle pads. If you participate in a sport that traumatizes your knuckles, like boxing or surfing, knuckle pads could form as a result. Repetitive trauma to the knuckles can also occur in some types of jobs, such as poultry processors.

Knuckle pads have been associated with a number of different health conditions, ranging from dental conditions like oral leukoplakia to skin conditions like hyperkeratosis. They've also been linked to genetic conditions like Ledderhose disease.

Often, knuckle pads develop for no discernible reason. Doctors refer to these cases as idiopathic. If you have idiopathic knuckle pads, future scientific research may discover the cause.

Can knuckle pads be treated?

If your knuckle pads make you feel self conscious, your dermatologist can offer treatments to get rid of them. In cases where repetitive trauma is the causative factor, simply taking a break from the activity that irritated your knuckles may be the only treatment that's required. Medical treatments are also available, if necessary.

Your dermatologist may prescribe a lotion that contains 25% urea. Applying this lotion for one month can help reduce the appearance of your knuckle pads by making them flatter and softer.

If necessary, the knuckle pads can be surgically excised. Skin grafts will be necessary to cover the surgical wounds on your knuckles. While this treatment can give good results, it can also cause scarring or keloid formation in some people.

Knuckle pads are a cosmetic skin condition, and with your dermatologist's help, you can get rid of them. For more information, contact a local dermatology clinic like Southwest Dermatology Institute