Keratosis pilaris is a common skin disorder that is caused by the buildup of keratin, a protective skin protein.
This buildup forms plugs in hair follicles, which lead to the trademark symptom of bumpy, rough skin patches that resemble permanent goose pimples.
This skin condition creates pale bumps on the surface of your skin; bumps may also appear red or inflamed for some patients.
These coarse, bumpy patches are generally located on the back of the upper arms, the front of the thighs, and buttocks, but they can also appear less often along the face, forearms, upper back, scalp, and eyebrows.
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Color changes may occur in these bumpy areas, especially if you pick at or scratch the bumps. Keratosis pilaris patches may become itchy, but they are rarely painful.
At just a millimeter or two in diameter, the bumps involved in keratosis pilaris are usually very small.
For some people with this condition, a coiled hair may be visible beneath certain bumps; this is the result of keratin clogging the hair follicle and preventing the hair from pushing through the surface of the bump.
Keratosis pilaris often worsens in the winter when humidity is lower, as the lack of moisture tends to dry out skin and exacerbate any irritation that may be present.
Symptoms of keratosis pilaris can affect anyone at any age, although it appears most frequently in young children and adolescents.
Approximately 50% to 80% of all adolescents are affected, as opposed to an estimated 40% of adults. Generally, the condition resolves in time and does not create serious medical complications for most patients.
If you feel concerned about your keratosis pilaris, however, see your family doctor or a dermatologist.
He or she can suggest additional ways to treat your condition at home, such as using a rich moisturizer on affected skin, exfoliating regularly, and installing a humidifier to keep your home from becoming dry.
If your symptoms of keratosis pilaris still persist after these treatments, your dermatologist may suggest topical retinoids or corticosteroids to combat extensive inflammation.
In more serious cases, laser treatments may be an alternative means of improving your skin’s texture and appearance.