The Keto Rash - What Is It?

The Keto Rash - What Is It?

Before we take a look at if you can be suffering from keto rash, let’s take a look at what a keto diet involves.

The ketogenic diet - also abbreviated as the keto diet - is a diet pattern that is low on carbohydrates and high on fats. The keto diet offers many health benefits including weight loss and is known to help deal with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even epilepsy. Research also states that the keto diet can help reduce blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

Some of the other health benefits provided by the keto diet are linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. There is also an increase in the level of insulin sensitivity, sometimes as high as 75% in the human body.

So how does the keto diet achieve all of these?

The focus is to reduce your carbs intake letting your body go into a state called ketosis. Your body gets into a glucose deficit leading it to burn fat quickly. The fat turns to ketones in the liver and offers energy to the important organs of the body including the brain.

If you are looking to make your body go into ketosis, it’s time to remove some food items from your daily list, including sweets and carbonated soft drinks. You also have to reduce your intake of leguminous plants, potatoes, and fruits.

What Happens in Ketosis?

Here is what happens to your body when it goes to ketosis.

    • In a keto friendly diet, you eat a high amount of keto-friendly fat.

    • About 60% to 80% of your diet is fat-based, while carbohydrates consist of only 10% to 20% of your diet.

    • Your body quickly goes into ketosis- the state where your body utilizes fats instead of carbohydrates to generate energy for your daily functions.

    • When trying out the keto diet, a very low-carb diet, the level of the hormone insulin in our body goes down, and fatty acids are released in our body in a significant amount.

    • These acids are then transported to the liver, where they are oxidized and made into ketones which provide energy for the entire body and all its functions.

    • Unlike other fatty acids, ketones can move across all hurdles and give energy to the brain when there is a minimal level of sugar or glucose in our body.



The keto diet does not only help you in losing weight but also to gain better metabolism in the body. However, the keto diet does act differently on different people. A lot depends on the immune system of the person taking it. At the end though, it makes you feel less hungryand helps in promoting weight loss in people.

What Happens in Ketosis

Can a Keto Diet Give you Rash?

So, are there any drawbacks and side effects, if any of the keto diet?

The keto diet, for one, can sometimes cause a rare problem called the ketosis rash. The rash, in medical terms called prurigo pigmentosa, is a skin condition that is mostly characterized by redness and inflammation around the neck and the back area. Itchiness is also a feature of the keto rash.

The keto rash is a dermatological problem. While it can happen to anyone, it is most common in women from Asia, especially Japan. Only about fifty of the two hundred documented cases of the keto rash, in itself a small number, have occurred outside of Japan.

While we mostly think of the ketosis rash as happening around the neck region, there are chances of keto rash on face and also keto rash on arms of an individual.That being said, a keto diet rash isn’t particularly harmful or something you have to worry about, and as we will see below, goes away when you stop the keto diet.

Is Itching a Sign of Keto Rash?

Some of the symptoms of this kind of outbreaks are:

1. Itchiness and redness around the stomach, back, and neck This is also called the keto itch.

2. Spots, red in colour, called papules that look like a web spread across the length of the affected area. The keto rash on arms can make it red.

3. The rashes tend to keep appearing time and again. They are pretty much recurring in nature.

4. They often become hard and scaly towards the end when the conditions worsen. The keto rash on face is particularly troublesome.

5. Dark, brownish pockmarks are seen left on the skin called keto hives once the rashes disappear entirely.

The Four Stages of Keto Rash

So, is this among those side effects that you should worry about? While redness and itchiness are a sign of the keto rash, there is no reason to panic. Not every rash you develop has to be the keto rash! Research on the keto diet and the keto rash has shown four distinct stages of the keto rash. Here is a look at the side effects.

1. Early Lesion:

There are light pink abrasions on the skin called ‘urticarial papuloplaques.’ They look like scratch marks on the skin. This is the first stage of the keto rash and is also the most overlooked stage for most people assume it to be a normal rash of some sort that will go away with time.

2. Fully Developed Lesion:

Keto rashes become visible now. The skin turns red with lesions called papules. These papules are sometimes containing cysts that are filled with fluids called papulovesicles. Sometimes, Rarely, these cysts are also filled with pus. These are called papulopustules. It may sometimes be painful as well. Mostly, you would find it as a keto rash on arms.

3. Resolving Lesion:

Now, the rashes begin to be reduced, but there are signs of crusty and scaly papules that are left on the skin. The abrasions also start getting darker in colour. The itchiness tends to reduce too at this point.

4. Late Lesion:

The last stage of the keto rash, the rashes heal, but the skin is left with web-like patterns, dark spot-like marks called ‘reticulated hyperpigmentation’ that remain on the skin long after the rashes are finally healed.

The Four Stages of Keto Rash

Should You Be Worried About a Keto Rash?

If your body is itching to post the keto diet, you are developing a keto rash. While there is a connection between keto rashes and ketosis, researchers and scientists have still not found out why it happens. However, they have some theories as to why a keto rash on face or a keto rash on arms can happen.

Here are a few reasons that might cause that trigger these rashes.

1. Ketones:

If there is an excess of ketones that are produced in your body while you undertake the keto diet, it can result into the inflammations of the blood vessels and lead to the emergence of the keto rashes.

2. Aggressive Fasting:

Continuous fasting for long periods can lead to a decrease in the blood sugar levels of a person which might influence their body to go into ketosis which will, in turn, lead to the body burning fats instead of carbohydrates to maintain energy and cause the rashes to develop.

3. A low carbohydrate-based diet:

A low carbohydrate-based diet can lead to rapid weight loss. Researchers have found that this has a significant correlation with the causing of the keto diet rash.

4. Allergens:

In many cases, people who suffer from the keto rashes have allergies from various keto-friendly foods that trigger the allergic reactions if they are to consume it. The immune system reacts differently in everybody.

5. Deficiency in nutrients:

Deficiency of nutrients in the right amount can also lead to a condition called low carb rashes. The low carb rash isn’t something to worry about but can cause discomfort.

Can My Keto Rash Reappear?

Relapses in keto rashes can happen due to different reasons. Some of the common ones are:

1. Restarting your keto diet may lead to a relapse in the rashes again.

2. You might develop rashes again through mechanical stimulators like bandages and the like.

3. Excessive sweating can lead to a relapse in the keto rashes.

4. Extreme emotional stress can act as a trigger for keto rashes.

How Do You Get Rid of Keto Rash?

So, how do we get rid of the keto rash? We will take a look at how you can get a keto rash easily.

1. Increase your carbohydrate intake:

If you are someone who had started the keto diet and reduced your carbs intake drastically, you should start incorporating more carbohydrate in your meal. Lack of carbs leads to ketone formation which leads to keto rashes.

2. Take care of proper nutrients in your food:

In the case of a keto rash, do not restrict the amount or number of foods that you can eat. Make sure your meal has a balanced amount of nutrient in them. Deficiency in vitamins A, B-12 and C has been known to lead to skin conditions including the keto rashes. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits to eliminate the threat of a keto rash.

3. Remove allergens from your food:

The keto diet meal consists of nuts, fish, dairy products like milk and curd, which are some of the most common food allergens. Try consulting a doctor to find out if you have allergies from any of these food items and make efforts to remove them from your meal.

4. Take anti-inflammatory supplements with your diet:

Supplements like probiotics, Vitamin D, fish oil supplements and the like are suitable for dermatological health. Be sure to take them with your meal as a precaution against the rashes.

5. Proper skin-care:

If you have sensitive skin, make sure to wash your skin daily with lukewarm water to clean the pores for healthier skin. You may not have to worry about having a keto rash on face then.

6. Take to your doctor:

If the keto rashes persist, it will be a good idea to visit your doctor to check in with their expert opinion.

These simple tips will help you ensure you don’t have to worry about keto rash, or get rid of them quickly.

The Top Lifestyle changes to Avoid Keto Rash

There are a couple of changes you can incorporate in your lifestyle to live a healthy life and avoid the keto rash. They are rather straightforward and simple to follow.

1. Stop fasting:

Fasting will only lead to an increase in ketone in your body that leads to a greater chance of rash formation.

2. Avoid skin irritants:

If you have excessively sensitive skin, we’d recommend that you avoid using any chemical products. Avoid scratching your rashes as that makes the condition worse. Do not use exfoliants over the affected area as well.

3. Avoid sweating:

While sweating is an unavoidable part of an active life and can barely be stopped, it can be controlled up to an extent. Try to avoid and/or minimize intense physical activities that lead to excessive sweating as that can cause an allergic reaction in your body and lead to keto rashes. Wear light and breezy clothes as they do not stick to the body and cause you to sweat more than usual.

4. Avoid stress:

Stress can also lead to rashes and breakouts. It is good to incorporate specific stress relieving techniques in your day to day lives to avoid your rashes and allergies from acting up. Meditation long walks, deep breathes, yoga and the like can help you relieve stress and calm your body down.

The Other Steps to Help Prevent Keto Rashes

Apart from lifestyle changes, a few other steps can help prevent the spread or occurrence of keto rashes on your body are:

1. Begin Your Keto Diet Slowly

If you really want to start a keto diet, better begin slowly. Instead of jumping into the diet head first, start slowly by reducing your carbohydrate intake day by day. Too much at once, is never a good idea.

2. Focus on the Nutrients

Focus on nutritious food items in your diet, including food that contains high amounts of vitamin C, E and other such similar nutrients that will help your immune system fight better against the keto rashes and other such problems.

3. Don’t Forget Omega-3

Omega 3 acids are an essential part of your diet as they help you strengthen your immune system, which is very important to lead a healthy life. The stronger your immune system is, the better chances you have to protect yourself from all kinds of diseases. You won’t even have to worry about rash.

keto diet

Should You Go For a Keto Diet?

Many patients with diabetes were able to stop taking medicines for diabetes completely. Here are some other diseases that the keto diet helps counter easily.

1. Heart Disease: The keto diet reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the body which is good for people who are susceptible to heart problems.

2. Cancer: The diet is now being prescribed to treat certain kinds of cancer and also to slow the growth of a tumor in the body.

3. Alzheimer’s Disease: The keto diet may help to reduce the progression of Alzheimer in patients.

4. Epilepsy: The keto diet can help reduce seizures in an epilepsy patient, especially in kids.

5. Parkinson’s Disease: Studies have found that the keto diet helps improve conditions in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: The keto diet also plays a vital role in fighting against the polycystic ovary syndrome.

7. Brain Injuries: Because of ketosis affecting the brain, it is seen that the keto diet helps recover from a brain injury, including concussions, quicker than from a regular diet.

8. Acne: Because of minimal sugar intake, there is a drastic improvement in skin conditions that can reduce acne in an individual.

How Does Ketosis Differ From Ketoacidosis?

Ketosis is part of the normal process of metabolism of the human body while ketoacidosis is a fatal condition related to the body’s metabolism that can be extremely dangerous if it is not treated correctly on time.

In ketoacidosis, the bloodstream of the affected person has a dangerously high glucose level and ketones, leading to the blood becoming acidic. While mostly seen in people with type 1 diabetes, it can also happen to people with type 2 diabetes;though rarely. Alcohol abuse can also lead to ketoacidosis in a person, and it’s why you need to practice responsible drinking.

Should You Stop Your Keto Diet?

While the ketogenic diet is good in itself, everybody responds differently. If you see your body responds negatively to the keto diet showing an increase in the number of keto rashes on your body, it’s time to stop it.

Do note though that the keto rash in itself is not harmful to the body apart from the redness, itchiness, and marks that remain on the body. There is no permanent damage. Only a couple hundred documented cases exist, so if you’re wondering if it should influence your decision to go for the keto diet, don’t worry. You don’t have to worry about keto rashes, honestly. The rashes, in all probability, wouldn’t happen. Even if it happens, the rash is just temporary, and you can always stop it.

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