November 8, 2023
Parakeratosis describes the presence of nucleated keratinocytes at the surface of the skin or other squamous cell-lined tissue. Keratinocytes are specialized cells that connect to form a protective barrier at the surface of the skin. Nucleated means that the keratinocytes contain a nucleus (the part of the cell that holds the genetic material). Normally as a keratinocyte develops and moves towards the outside surface of the skin, the nucleus is removed from the cell before it reaches the most superficial layer. For this reason, parakeratosis in the skin is an abnormal finding.
Parakeratosis can be seen in several inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and spongiotic dermatitis (eczema). This change can also be seen in some types of skin cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma and the precancerous condition squamous cell carcinoma in situ. Because parakeratosis can be seen in a variety of conditions, it is a description and not a diagnosis by itself. Pathologists use the presence of parakeratosis along with other features to make a final diagnosis.
This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us if you have questions about this article or your pathology report. For a complete introduction to your pathology report, read this article.