Why The Keto Diet Can Give You A Rash

The keto diet has swept across the U.S. in recent years, bringing with it conversations about macros, fat, and ketosis. In addition to weight loss, the diet is also known to produce some unpleasant side effects including bad breath, diarrhea, constipation, and a feeling of having the flu (via Health).

Now a new symptom is being added to those side effects, as people following the keto diet have been reporting a unique rash. It's officially called prurigo pigmentosa, and appears as red, itchy bumps creating a web-like pattern on the neck, back, or stomach, according to Women's Health. It's easy to mistake for common rashes like dermatitis, but with the keto rash, a brown or pigmented color usually appears with the bumps.

Experts aren't yet sure what causes the keto rash, but there are a few theories. One is that foods that are popular on the keto diet, like eggs and dairy, are allergens, and can trigger a reaction among those who are sensitive.

How to treat a keto rash

Another possibility is linked to the way ketosis causes changes in gut health. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, of Mount Sinai Hospital, told Women's Health, "The thought is that an alteration of the gut microbiome — aka, the collection of normal bacteria living in our gut — causes inflammation throughout the body leading to an immune response in our skin and the development of this rash."

Unfortunately for those who are strict adherents of the keto diet, the recommended way to resolve the rash is to reintroduce carbs into the diet. If you're dead-set against doing so, then at least be sure the high-fat foods you're building the diet around are good, quality fats. Cynthia Sass, registered dietician, told Health, "Prioritize plant-based monounsaturated fats, like extra virgin olive oil and avocado, over cream and butter."

If that still doesn't help and the rash doesn't clear up, then it's time to call your doctor for a visit. Antibiotics can be prescribed to relieve symptoms and clear up outbreaks.