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Keratosis pilaris

 

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition in which a protein in the skin called keratin forms hard plugs within hair follicles.

Causes

Keratosis pilaris is harmless (benign). It seems to run in families. It is more common in people who have very dry skin, or who have atopic dermatitis (eczema).

The condition is generally worse in winter and often clears in the summer.

Symptoms

 

Symptoms may include:

  • Small bumps that look like "goose bumps" on the back of the upper arms and thighs
  • Bumps feel like very rough sandpaper
  • Skin-colored bumps are the size of a grain of sand
  • Slight pinkness may be seen around some bumps
  • Bumps may appear on the face and be mistaken for acne

 

Exams and Tests

 

The health care provider can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. Tests are usually not needed.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment may include:

  • Moisturizing lotions to soothe the skin and help it look better
  • Skin creams that contain urea, lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, tretinoin, or vitamin D
  • Steroid creams to reduce redness

Improvement often takes months and the bumps are likely to come back.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Keratosis pilaris may fade slowly with age.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if the bumps are bothersome and do not get better with lotions you buy without a prescription.

 

 

References

Desai NC, Silverman RA. Keratosis pilaris and variants. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 118.

Marks JG, Miller JJ. Inflammatory papules. In: Marks JG, Miller JJ, eds. Lookingbill and Marks' Principles of Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 11.

 
  • Keratosis pilaris on the cheek

    Keratosis pilaris on the cheek - illustration

    Keratosis pilaris occurs most commonly during childhood and produces small, rough spots. called papules, that are typically the same color as the skin. They usually appear over the outer surface of the upper arms and thighs, but may also occur elsewhere on the body. Dry skin, especially during winter months, makes the condition worse. Keratosis pilaris tends to be inherited and may be associated with atopic dermatitis.

    Keratosis pilaris on the cheek

    illustration

  • Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii - illustration

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii is characterized by redness (erythema) and the presence of rough bumpiness (follicular spines) which may begin at birth or during childhood or adolescence.

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

    illustration

  • Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii - illustration

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii is characterized by redness (erythema) and the presence of rough bumps (follicular spines) which may begin at birth, or during childhood or adolescence.

    Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

    illustration

    • Keratosis pilaris on the cheek

      Keratosis pilaris on the cheek - illustration

      Keratosis pilaris occurs most commonly during childhood and produces small, rough spots. called papules, that are typically the same color as the skin. They usually appear over the outer surface of the upper arms and thighs, but may also occur elsewhere on the body. Dry skin, especially during winter months, makes the condition worse. Keratosis pilaris tends to be inherited and may be associated with atopic dermatitis.

      Keratosis pilaris on the cheek

      illustration

    • Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii - illustration

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii is characterized by redness (erythema) and the presence of rough bumpiness (follicular spines) which may begin at birth or during childhood or adolescence.

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

      illustration

    • Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii - illustration

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii is characterized by redness (erythema) and the presence of rough bumps (follicular spines) which may begin at birth, or during childhood or adolescence.

      Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

         

        Review Date: 10/9/2015

        Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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