Keratosis pilaris is a common ailment that affects many people. It most often occurs as small, scaly, flesh or red-colored bumps on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and the cheeks. Sometimes, it can occur on other places on the body. It is caused by the plugging of small hair follicles. Often this problem tends to be inherited.
Keratosis pilaris is sometimes itchy, but the main worry is cosmetic. Keratosis pilaris is often worse during the winter months and is seen most in children and young adults.
This can be hard to treat. At best, treatment will control and improve it. If it clears with treatment, it often recurs after you stop treatment.
- Dry skin tends to make it worse. Bathe with mild soap, such as Dove® or Cetaphil® cleanser.
- Use a moisturizing cream for dry areas after bathing. After your bath or shower, shake off excess water from the skin and apply the cream to damp skin. This helps to seal in the moisture. Your doctor will suggest a cream that is best for you.
- Mild peeling agents work best to open the plugged hair follicles by removing the excess skin. A person’s response to each therapy will vary, but urea preparations (such as Carmol®), lactic acid creams (such as Lachhydrin® or Lachydrin® V) and topical retinoids (such as Differin®, Retin®-A, Avita®, or Tazorac®) are the most common treatments. If a retinoid has been prescribed for treatment, use only a thin coat on dry skin because it may increase the dryness. The prescribed therapy must be used on a regular basis or the keratosis pilaris recurs. The treatments do not work in all patients. For most children, treatment is not needed.
Normal Hair Follicle Keratosis Pilaris
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
American Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
1675 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
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Last Updated: 05/08/2013
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