What is keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is a condition that causes white or red bumps on the skin. You get rid of keratosis pilaris by moisturizing, exfoliating and using laser treatments.
Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that looks like tiny white or red pimples covering an area of your skin. The pimples are dry and may feel like sandpaper. This condition is most commonly seen on the upper arms, buttocks, and thighs. It usually does not itch or cause pain.
Even though its appearance can be frustrating, keratosis pilaris does not cause any harm or pose any health risks. It isn’t contagious since a fungus, bacteria, or a virus doesn’t cause it.
Causes of keratosis pilaris
Keratosis pilaris happens when dead skin cells that usually fall away clog nearby hair follicles on your skin. You’re more likely to have keratosis pilaris bumps in the colder winter months when the air is dry.
Who can get keratosis pilaris?
Anyone can get keratosis pilaris. It is most common among children under the age of two and teenagers. Women are more likely to be affected by this condition than men. While there isn’t a cure, keratosis pilaris is less likely to affect you with age. It is rarely diagnosed past the age of 30.
Scientists believe that genetics play a part in the condition since it can run in families. You may also be prone to keratosis pilaris if you:
- Are overweight
- Have asthma
- Tend to experience dry skin
- Have eczema
- Catch hay fever
How do you know if you have keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is persistent, meaning that it can last weeks or months. If you have a similar skin rash that goes away within a few days or a week, it is most likely a different condition.
Keratosis pilaris on the body tends to be white or the same color as your flesh and often looks like goosebumps. While it can be red, severe redness and inflammation signal a different skin disorder than keratosis pilaris. It often looks like acne, making it more difficult to identify on your face.
Diagnosis for keratosis pilaris
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose keratosis pilaris. Your doctor will examine the affected area on your skin. They will ask about your symptoms to see if they align with keratosis pilaris.
In some cases, your doctor will take a skin sample to examine under a microscope or put through further testing to confirm a diagnosis. Since skin disorders are common, a blood draw or other diagnostic tests may be done to rule out other skin conditions.
Treatments for keratosis pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is not a condition you can get rid of. Since the condition doesn’t cause harm to your body, treatment is not usually necessary. If the bumps do bother you, over-the-counter treatments will help you to reduce or eliminate them.
Look for a moisturizer that contains the active ingredients urea or lactic acid. These ingredients have been shown to provide good results for keratosis pilaris. Moisturizers are most effective when used within a few minutes of showering or bathing while your skin is still damp.
Moisturizers are designed to help with dryness, so your skin may still appear bumpy. If this is the case, use an exfoliator like a loofah or microdermabrasion paste to remove the top layer of skin. Corticosteroid creams are known to soften skin and improve texture, which can also help with the appearance of bumps.
For persistent cases of keratosis pilaris, your doctor can refer you to a dermatologist who can perform a skin treatment using lasers or light. A dermatologist can also use special microdermabrasion techniques to improve your skin’s texture and appearance.
Keep in mind that your skin condition may take 4 to 6 weeks to clear. It may also flare up again in the future. Once your condition improves, your doctor will come up with a maintenance plan to keep your symptoms reduced or eliminated.
Risks and side effects of keratosis pilaris treatments
All medications and treatments pose the risk of negative side effects. It is always important to talk to your doctor about your best options.
If you’re worried about having an allergic reaction to moisturizers or creams, apply them first to a small portion of skin before using them all over.
Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases
Medically Reviewed on 2/5/2021
American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Keratosis pilaris.”
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “KERATOSIS PILARIS.”
Family Doctor: “Keratosis Pilaris.”
John Hopkins Medicine: “Keratosis pilaris.”