Keratosis Pilaris


Know the basics

What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris refers to a harmless skin condition including dry, rough patches and hard, tiny bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks that may make your skin feel like sandpaper. The bumps sometimes itch, but generally don’t hurt or get worse, they are often light-colored, sometimes with redness or swelling. It is less common that they can also show up on your face.

How common is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris affect approximate 50-80% of all adolescents and nearly 40% adults. Fmale is more likely to get keratosis pilaris. It can affect patients at any age but more common at young age. It can worsen during pregnancy and after childbirth, or during puberty. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of keratosis pilaris?

The common signs and symptoms of keratosis pilaris are:

  • Painless tiny bumps, typically on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks;
  • Dry, rough skin in the areas with bumps and they tend to worsen when seasonal changes cause low humidity along with that skin tends to be drier;
  • Sandpaper-like bumps resembling goose flesh.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if some significant visual changes appear on your skin by unknown causes and makes you really concerned. They can often make a diagnosis by examining the skin and the characteristic scaly bumps.

Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes keratosis pilaris?

A buildup of keratin is the one to blame. Keratin is a hard protein which is responsible for protecting skin from harmful substances and infection. When the buildup occurs, a pulp is formed, which blocks the opening of a hair follicle and causes keratosis pilaris. However, the reason why keratin builds up is still unknown. It may occur in association with genetic diseases or with other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and eczema.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for keratosis pilaris?

There are many risk factors for keratosis pilaris, such as:

  • Your gender;
  • A family history of keratosis pilaris;
  • Weather, especially in winter months;
  • Skin type (dry skin).

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is keratosis pilaris diagnosed?

Keratosis pilaris is not a dangerous disease the need doctor’ diagnosis as it doesn’t cause any harm. But if you decide to meet your doctor, they are able to diagnose the condition just by looking at the areas of affected skin without testing.

How is keratosis pilaris treated?

Keratosis pilaris is generally a controllable but incurable condition No treatment is proved completely effective for keratosis pilaris. In some case, it can clear up on its own. To control keratosis pilaris, you can apply products to help manage the appearance of the affected skin. Medicated creams for keratosis pilaris can be found over-the-counter to moisturize you skin. The bad news is that if you stop using medicated creams, the condition can return and even tend to persist for years.

Two kinds of cream often used are those to remove dead skin cells and those to prevent plugged follicles.

  • Creams used to remove dead skin cells usually contain alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea to help loosen and remove dead skin cells, moisturize and soften dry skin. Young children shouldn’t use this type of cream as they can cause side effects like redness or slight burning.
  • Creams used to prevent plugged follicles are made from vitamin A to help promoting cell turnover and preventing plugged hair follicles. However, you can experience irritation and dryness on skin when using this kind of cream. They are not advised for those who are pregnant or nursing.

Another treatment for you to cope with your keratosis pilaris is laser treatment. The goal of this treatment is to treat severe redness when creams and lotions don’t help completely.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage keratosis pilaris?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with keratosis pilaris:

  • You should use warm water and limit bath time to avoid removing oils from the skin.
  • You need to be gentle to the skin by avoiding harsh, drying soaps and gently patting your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains.
  • Moisturizing your skin is necessary. A humidifier can help improve humidity and moisturize the skin.
  • You should also avoid wearing tight clothes that could chaff your skin.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019

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