If you’ve been following a low-carb diet like keto, you may be experiencing side effects due to the changes in your diet.
While not everyone experiences side effects on keto, some may experience symptoms from lack of proper vitamins and minerals like tiredness, lethargy, headaches, and something known as a keto rash.
Below you’ll understand what you need to know about the keto rash, symptoms you may experience, and how you can treat it effectively.
Keto Rash Symptoms
The keto rash is an inflammatory response by the skin where the area affected is red and often itchy.
It’s usually found around the stomach and neck and is classified as a type of dermatitis known as prurigo pigmentosa. (1)
Here are a few symptoms of what you can expect to see if you have a keto rash:
- A red, itchy area of the body that’s often found around the stomach, neck area, upper back, and chest. These are the most common areas.
- Papules look like skin lesions that cluster close by each other, forming a rash.
- A dark spot left behind from the rash, usually brown in color.
What Causes The Keto Rash?
While more research is needed, there’s evidence to suggest that the ketogenic diet and prurigo pigmentosa are linked.
Scientists believe that the rash happens when the body enters ketosis. The body enters into a state of ketosis when carbohydrate intake is limited.
Here are a few theories as to what is causing the keto rash once the body enters into ketosis:
Acetone is a type of ketone that is removed through the body through sweat as we produce more ketones. When we’re becoming keto-adapted, the acetone in the sweat may irritate the skin, causing a rash.
When you enter ketosis, your body starts to produce more ketones which are used as energy and also burn fat.
Initially, when ketosis is new for the body, ketones may produce an inflammatory response in some people. The inflammation response may happen close to the skin’s surface.
Underlying Autoimmune Disease
Sjogren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the entire body’s immune system is infected by attacking the moisture-producing glands of the eyes, mouth, and nose. This is the cause for dryness in those areas.
Normally, this occurs because individuals have faulty immune systems that cannot recognize parts of their own bodies.
Sjogren’s syndrome can affect any organ or tissue in the body where moisture production is important, including joints, liver, lungs, and other areas.
It’s possible that the change in diet can affect this autoimmune disorder causing the skin to react and create a rash.
When there’s an imbalance in your gut, it’s possible that your body is producing more bad bacteria than good bacteria.
Bad bacteria can cause a variety of health problems, including skin rashes.
If you suffer from diabetes, the change in diet and production of ketones may produce a skin rash.
Treating Your Keto Rash
While the keto rash is not a life-threatening condition, it does affect your everyday life and make your skin sensitive.
If you experience keto rash, you should start by reducing or removing some of the foods that are triggering the reaction, and you should also drink more water to remove toxins from your body.
Here are a few other ways to treat your rash:
Adjusting Your Carb Intake
The likely culprit of your rash is due to the recent change in your diet if you just began keto.
A study has shown that by adjusting your carbohydrate intake, you can improve the symptoms you see on your body. (1)
While your body adjusts to your new way of eating, you may want to have a slightly higher consumption of carbs for a short while and then further reduce your carb intake when your body gets a little more accustomed to your diet.
You May Have A Nutrient Deficiency
If you have too much, or too little of specific vitamins, that can play a major role in the skin conditions you’re seeing in the form of a rash.
When on a ketogenic diet, it’s important you get all the nutrition your body needs. Follow the rules and guidelines of the ketogenic diet to make sure you have the right food your body needs to thrive.
Watch Out For Food Allergies
Since the ketogenic diet calls for a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat intake, your diet is likely to change from what you’re used to eating day-to-day.
Take a look at the food list and double-check to make sure you’re not consuming any food that is commonly associated with food allergies.
Dairy, eggs, nuts, and fish, all of which are fine to consume on keto, have also been linked with allergies.
Get yourself tested to know for sure what you may be allergic to if you feel this is a concern or linked to what’s causing your rash symptoms.
Clean Your Skin Properly
If you’re noticing any skin issues, you’ll want to be careful and diligent about taking care of your skin.
Take a look at the soap and shampoo you’re using, and make sure it’s gentle enough to use on a baby so that it doesn’t irritate your skin.
It’s also a good idea and recommended by the National Eczema Association to keep your skin moisturized as often as you can.
If all else fails, then check in with your doctor and have them take a look at your skin. It’s possible it may be unrelated to keto.
They may have a different treatment option that’s a little more aggressive and give you relief.
If you feel you’ve developed a rash due to dietary changes from the ketogenic diet, you have options that can help get you through the initial period.
The keto rash does not last for a long time, but you may want to adjust your diet or use the tips outlined here to help reduce inflammation and the rash on your skin.
Try playing with your carb intake, make sure you have proper vitamins and minerals, and consult with your doctor if you feel something just doesn’t feel right or need peace of mind.