Keratosis pilaris is a fairly common skin condition that creates small bumps and rough patches on the body.
These bumps and patches are usually white or red and are scattered across the cheeks, arms, thighs, and buttocks.
Occasionally, the forearms and upper back may also be affected. Rare forms of ketosis pilaris can create bumps and rough patches along the eyebrows, face, and scalp as well.
This skin disorder affects approximately 50-80% of all adolescents and nearly 40% of all adults. It is most common in those with dry skin or among people who have an existing skin condition such as eczema.
Individuals with keratosis pilaris experience tiny, spiky bumps that are rough to the touch. For some people, this skin disorder can also involve itching and inflammation surrounding these bumpy areas.
These symptoms are caused by the formation of hard plugs within hair follicles by a protein in the skin called keratin. Once many of these plugs form, they create patches of bumpy, irritated skin that resemble “chicken skin” or permanent goose bumps.
Keratosis pilaris is not contagious, but it does appear to run in families, as between 30% and 50% of patients have a positive family history for the condition.
Although keratosis pilaris can create uncomfortable symptoms, it is generally a harmless illness. Occasionally, however, it can create psychological distress in some individuals.
The condition is displeasing in appearance, but it is medically harmless. If you are experiencing keratosis pilaris, your symptoms may be relieved by using soap-free cleansers and gentle exfoliators to reduce dead skin cells.
Even though many patients experience frequently relapses after initial improvements, the condition usually heals over time and may even completely disappear.
Generally, you do not need to consult your doctor about treatment for keratosis pilaris unless your symptoms are making you concerned. If you do pursue medical treatment, your doctor or dermatologist can suggest at-home remedies.
Effective home-based treatments include various over-the-counter exfoliating cleansers, moisturizing lotions, or skin creams to soothe skin and to combat inflammation.
In more serious cases, your doctor may also prescribe a corticosteroid cream or a topical retinoid to control extensive inflammation.