Managing hyperkeratosis in canine patients

Identifying the cause of hyperkeratosis in your canine patients is a key step in choosing the right course of treatment, yet a topical approach is always recommended.

The fibrous protein keratin is the main component of skin, hair, feathers, horns, claws and beaks in most animals. Hyperkeratosis is a skin condition in which keratin is overproduced causing an increase in the thickness of the stratum corneum. The clinical signs involve rough, thickened and dry skin which can crack, resulting in the emergence of secondary infections (bacterial or fungal).

Hyperkeratosis typically affects certain locations such as the nose, pads and pressure point calluses. Certain breeds are predisposed for hereditary and genetic reasons. The French Mastiff and the Irish terrier for example, are mostly affected by ‘naso-plantar keratoderma’ and the Labrador by ‘nasal parakeratosis’. This skin ailment can also be age-related due to the thickening of the skin that occurs when animals age, especially at the pressure points, hence the formation of calluses.

Management depends on the cause

Though it is possible to manage hyperkeratosis in animals, the success of the management protocol involves first identifying the cause. Chronic hyperkeratosis requires a different therapeutic approach than hyperkeratosis that results as a short-term defense against external/environmental irritants. For example, if a patient presents with pressure point calluses on the elbow area, a change of bedding is recommended. In any case, in order to improve the comfort and appearance of these thickened zones, it is essential to apply specifically-formulated emollient ointments.

Topical treatment of hyperkeratosis

The use of keratolytic active ingredients (salicylic acid, lactic acid, urea or tretinoin) can help dissolve the excess keratin on the stratum corneum. A localized approach with dermo-cosmetic products is an essential component of any management protocol since moisturizing the skin helps reduce the size of the hyperkeratotic areas.

Topical products like balms, ointments, creams and gels are most suitable because of their galenic forms which allow an effective penetration through the thickened stratum corneum. Dermo-cosmetics should be applied frequently (on a daily basis) in order to be effective. Regular application will help limit recurrences.

Scientific evidence supports the use of Dermoscent BIO BALM® on dogs with hyperkeratosis

Dermoscent BIO BALM® is a natural balm recommended to help manage nasal and pedal hyperkeratosis, non-infected pressure point calluses, and to help protect and repair paw pads. For each indication, clinical studies have been carried out by veterinarians:

Nasal Hyperkeratosis1

Dermoscent BIO BALM® has proven effective in the management of nasal hyperkeratosis through a double-blind study carried out by Dr. Mathilde Catarino and Professor Marie-Christine Cadiergues, diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Dermatology, and published in Veterinary Dermatology.

39 dogs with idiopathic nasal hyperkeratosis received Dermoscent BIO BALM® or a placebo once a day over the course of two months. The condition – including lichenification, dryness, suppleness and lesion extent – improved by 36.8%.

©M.C. Cadiergues – M. Catarino

Non-infected calluses2

A three-month study on 35 dogs, presented during the European Congress of Veterinary Dermatology in 2011, demonstrated how Dermoscent BIO BALM® helps manage non-infected pressure point calluses. After three months of daily application, scores were significantly reduced:

  • Lichenification -66.8%
  • Squamosis -85.9%
  • Thickness -30.7%
  • Total affected area -38.1%.

©M.C. Cadiergues – E. Gaillard – E. Bensignor

Paw pad protection and repair3

During the last World e-Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (WCVD October 2020), Dermoscent BIO BALM® was put forward by two presentations from the National Veterinary School of Nantes (ONIRIS) after use in sled dogs.

This research demonstrated that the balm was effective in protecting pads of intensively trained sled dogs by helping limit the occurrence of pedal lesions. In addition, the balm helped promote faster repair of pads of these sportive dogs exposed to severe training conditions.

©A. Bouvier, P. Bourdeau

The nourishing and water-resistant formula of Dermoscent BIO BALM® is based on organic-certified natural ingredients. It is rich in essential fatty acids (Omega-6 and -3) from soybean vegetable oil and in purifying essential oil of cajputi. It does not contain any mineral oil.

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1M.CATARINO, C. PRESSANTI, P. MIMOUNI and M.C CADIERGUES, Control of idiopathic nasal hyperkeratosis in dogs with a mixture of essential oils and essential fatty acids (Dermoscent BIO BALM®): a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Short Communication ESVD 2015, Article published in open access in Veterinary Dermatology (October 2017). Dr. Catarino Doctoral thesis – ENVT France 2014

2E. GAILLARD, C.PRESSANTI, E. BENSIGNOR, C.MARTIN-VO and M.C. CADIERGUES, Control of non-infected calluses in dogs with a balm containing a mixture of essential oil and essential fatty acids (Dermoscent BIO BALM®): an open prospective study, Poster & Short Communication ESVD 2011, Abstract in: Veterinary Dermatology, Vol 22, issue 5, p.471. Dr. Gaillard Doctoral thesis – ENVT France 2011

– Dermoscent BIO BALM® efficacy in preventing pedal lesions and healing effect on sled dogs, Poster WCVD 2020, Abstract in: Veterinary Dermatology, Vol 31 (Suppl. 1), p.95

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Dr. Lionel Fabries graduated from Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse in France in 1981 and completed a veterinary ophthalmology degree in 1982 prior to becoming a visiting scholar in the University of Florida as one of Prof. Kirk Gelatt’s staff during 1982-83. For over 30 years, he has been practicing medicine and surgery on small animals, mainly in ophthalmology and cardiology. He has played an active role as a member of the Board in the French Association of Small Animals Veterinarians and has given regularly lectures in the above mentioned two disciplines. As a member of the European Society of Veterinary Dermatology since 2004, Lionel attended numerous congresses and workshops, and has since developed his practice in dermatology. In 2003, he founded with two associates LDCA to offer a comprehensive range of dermo-cares for companion animals under the brand Dermoscent® to enrich veterinarians’ arsenal in addressing skin disorders.


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