If you’re new to a ketogenic diet, congratulations. Along with being a great way to lose weight and get in shape, keto has been proven to help dieters lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce their risk of diabetes. However, the eating plan is not without its drawbacks, including the dreaded keto rash. Learn more about the symptoms and causes of this condition, along with the various keto rash treatment options at your disposal.
Understanding Keto Rash
A frequent problem among keto practitioners, keto rash is nothing to panic about. Understanding the causes of keto rash can be the first step in determining the best keto rash treatments.
Also called a low-carb itch or prurigo pigmentosa, keto rash is a common but unwelcome side effect of entering ketosis. Caused by inflammation, keto rash refers to a web-like pattern of spots that develops on the neck, chest, torso, and back of certain individuals undertaking the ketogenic diet. The spots range in color from light pink to red to brown and often result in an itchy, unpleasant sensation. In some cases, a dark brown pattern remains on the skin after the spots fade.
Causes of Keto Rash
Some disagreement exists with regard to the causes of keto rash. However, experts believe that the keto diet may be to blame for the condition. When the body starts burning stored fat instead of sugar for fuel, it enters a state known as ketosis. During this time, ketones are produced. Many believe that it’s the ketones that cause dieters to develop inflammatory spots on the chest and trunk.
Further, the change in blood sugar may play a role in the development of keto rash. When embarking on a keto diet, individuals typically consume far less sugar in the form of carbohydrates than they did previously. They may also participate in fasting to expedite their weight-loss goals. This fasting, coupled with the drop in blood sugar, can trigger inflammation and result in the development of keto rash spots.
Here are some additional keto rash causes to consider.
1. Nutritional Changes
It’s natural to adjust your eating habits and therefore your macros when embarking on a keto diet. You might even start consuming a new food or two on a regular basis. As your body adjusts to different foods and nutrients, the resulting chemical changes could be a factor in developing the dreaded keto rash. Moreover, there’s always a chance that you’re allergic to one or more of the new foods you’re consuming.
2. Increased Perspiration
A majority of keto dieters increase their exercise levels as a way of expediting weight loss. While hitting the gym more frequently has numerous health benefits, all that extra sweating could be having a negative effect on the skin. Not only can perspiration cause skin irritation and inflammation, but sweat also helps viruses spread and may make an existing rash worse.
3. Tight Clothing
Certain clothing can irritate the skin or make your keto rash more pronounced. Avoid tight or clingy fabrics in favor of looser garments that allow for more airflow when embarking on a keto diet.
While keto rash is a temporary condition that usually dissipates within a week or two, the discomfort can interfere with your ability to sleep and perform other activities. Fortunately, a number of options exist for treating this condition.
Keto Rash Treatments
Keto skin conditions are usually temporary. However, if the problem isn’t going away on its own, here are some keto rash treatments to consider.
1. Eat Clean Carbs
If you developed a keto rash after cutting carbs out of your diet completely, you might want to try going low carb instead of no carb for a period of time. Increasing your clean carb intake may be enough to alleviate the rash and let you move forward with your weight-loss goals.
2. Drink Bone Broth
Not only is bone brother a keto-approved food, but it also boasts valuable nutrients like glycine and anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate rashes and itching.
3. Try an Elimination Diet
It’s possible that one or more of the foods you’re consuming is causing your keto rash. This is particularly likely if you’ve started consuming new foods that are more keto friendly. To that end, it’s helpful to conduct an elimination diet. Start by removing those foods that are new to your diet and see if your rash dissipates.
4. Consider Fish Oil
Thanks to an abundance of omega-3s, fish oil has anti-inflammatory benefits. You can also try eating more wild fatty fishes, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, to reduce rash symptoms.
You can also try some common superfoods and supplements known for aiding skin. Talk to your doctor about what supplements would be best for your needs.
5. Develop Stress-reducing Techniques
When you embark on a new dietary strategy, it’s natural to feel mentally and emotionally stressed. Anxiety and worry can trigger a flare-up of your skin condition. If you want to cure your rash, try doing some breathing exercises or getting a calming massage.
6. Avoid Excessive Sweating
While you probably don’t want to stop working out all together, it may be wise to avoid high-intensity exercise while you have a keto rash. Instead, participate in lighter weight training or yoga to minimize sweating. Additionally, you can avoid irritating your keto rash by wearing loose clothes and showering immediately after an exercise session.
7. Give It Time
It’s not the most satisfying advice, but sometimes recovering from keto rash is just a matter of waiting it out. The truth is your body needs time to adjust to the influx of ketones and the other dietary and lifestyle changes taking place. The longer you stay in ketosis, the more your body will adapt. For most people, keto rash goes away on its own within a couple weeks.
8. Exit Ketosis
If the above remedies don’t offer the keto rash relief you crave, you might need to exit ketosis to see if your rash dissipates. In most cases, getting out of ketosis will result in the abatement of symptoms within a couple days. However, dieters should note that they will have to go through the same side effects upon entering ketosis again.
The truth is that keto rash is usually a temporary problem, and most people adapt well to a ketogenic diet. However, if rash symptoms don’t clear up within a day or two of stopping ketosis, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor.