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Do You Really Need to Worry About ‘Keto Rash’?

If you recently started the keto diet, you’ve probably noticed a few weird side effects that come with your weight loss. We’re talking keto flu, keto breath, and maybe even keto crotch — what fun, right? In the midst of figuring out what’s normal and what’s not, you might have heard someone mention “keto rash.” Good grief, is there another thing you need to worry about while you’re on a low-carb, high-fat eating plan? As it turns out, you probably don’t need to hit the panic button about keto rash just yet. Here’s why…

First of all, “keto rash” — characterized by red, itchy bumps on the neck, back, and stomach — has not been proven to be caused by the keto diet. Instead, research shows this rash is usually seen alongside symptoms of ketosis — the state where your body gets energy from fats instead of carbs. While you do need to enter ketosis in order to do the keto diet successfully, keto rash is not listed by any experts as a normal side effect. The exact cause of keto rash remains unknown, but of course it’s still concerning that some folks on the diet have experienced this issue. No one should have to deal with that!

But it’s important to know that keto rash (formally called prurigo pigmentosa) is considered a rare health problem, especially in the United States. Experts say it typically occurs in Asian women of child-bearing age. In fact, most of the in-depth research around the topic specifically focuses on young Japanese women. That said, it has been documented in women of other ethnicities and ages, as well as men. So at the end of the day, it is technically possible for anyone to get keto rash on the diet, but you shouldn’t be frantically looking at your skin for red bumps and it shouldn’t be a reason to not try it out. 

If you do observe a rash of any kind while you’re on the diet, talk to your doctor ASAP. You may need medication, and you may also need to reconsider your diet plan. Changing the way you eat is tough enough; you shouldn’t need to deal with itchy skin at the same time! And remember, always talk to your doctor before starting any diet, especially a restrictive one like keto.

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