Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris is a very common disorder in which small red or skin-colored bumps occur in hair follicles or pores, often with some redness around the pore. The affected skin is typically dry and patchy as well.

It occurs in about 60% of teens and is more commonly seen in girls. The majority of people with keratosis pilaris see it on the upper arms. Over half have some involvement on their upper thighs and about 30% have some involvement on their buttocks. About 40% of adults will get it in varying degrees. It is more common in those with atopic conditions (asthma, hay fever, eczema), ichthyosis vulgaris, hypothyrodism, Cushing’s disease and a number of rare genetic conditions. Keratosis pilaris isn’t a serious medical concern and will often lessen on its own.

Common features of keratosis pilaris include: Small, red or skin colored, acne-like bumps Dry rough patches of skin which may be itchy

Hormones are considered as the primary cause, since it appears at puberty and is more common in overweight women who have higher androgen (male hormone) levels. There is a genetic component to this condition. This is so common, it may be considered normal.

Avoid soaps, especially bar soaps, as they will cause dry skin and may damage the skin barrier. Instead, opt for mild soap-free cleansers, preferably in liquid form. These cleansers will gently remove dirt, excess oil, bacteria and cosmetics without damaging the skin barrier. Be careful to limit contact with hot water, as this can actually dry out the skin further. Moisturizers help to restore and maintain the skin’s natural moisture levels. Look for a moisturizer specially designed for sensitive skin that is free of fragrance, dye or other allergens that may irritate the skin. Frequent application of moisturizing creams can help soothe dry and itchy spots.

There is no fool-proof way to prevent keratosis pilaris. However, a good skin care regimen involving regular moisturization will keep your skin healthy and hydrated.

OTC
Treatment of keratosis pilaris can include some of the following over-the-counter medicated creams and lotions:

  • Lactic acid lotions: (Lachydrin®, Lacticare®)
  • Urea lotions: (Uremol® Lotion)
  • Glycolic Acid Lotions: (Reversa®, Neostrata® solution)These can help to moisturize the skin as well as remove excess dead skin cells. These creams should be applied after bathing and before bedtime.

Prescription
A doctor may prescribe topical creams containing tretinoin or Differin® to help improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris. Apply these creams daily for the best results. Mild topical steroids can show benefits.Occasionally oral antibiotics can also reduce inflammation.