Keratosis pilaris may be a quite common benign skin condition appearing as small, whitish bumps on the upper arms and thighs, especially of youngsters and young adults. Individual lesions of keratosis arise when a follicle becomes plugged with keratin, a protein found in skin, hair, and nails.
Who's at risk?
Keratosis pilaris can affect people of any age, any race, and either sex. It is more common in females.
Keratosis pilaris often develops by age 10 and may worsen during puberty. However, it frequently improves or even goes away by early adulthood.
Keratosis pilaris can affect 50–80% of teenagers and up to 40% of adults. Many people have a case history of keratosis . A large number of people with ichthyosis vulgaris (an inherited skin condition characterized by very dry, very scaly skin) also report the presence of keratosis .
Signs and Symptoms
The most common locations for keratosis pilaris include:
Ø Backs of the upper arms
Ø Fronts of the thighs
Ø Cheeks, especially in children
There is no cure for keratosis , though its appearance are often improved. It is often helpful to stay the skin moist (hydrated) and to use mild, fragrance-free cleansers with daily applications of moisturizer.
Creams and ointments are better moisturizers than lotions, and that they work best when applied just after bathing, while the skin remains moist. The following over-the-counter products may be helpful:
Ø Preparations containing alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid or lactic acid
Ø Creams containing urea
Ø Over-the-counter cortisone cream (if the areas are itchy)
When to Seek Medical Care
Keratosis pilaris isn't a significant medical condition and has no health implications. However, if self-care measures are not improving the appearance of the skin and it continues to bother you, see a dermatologist or another physician who may be able to recommend more aggressive treatments.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Many episodes of keratosis pilaris improve with time. However, it is generally regarded as a long-lasting (chronic) skin condition. Treatments are aimed at controlling the rough bumps, not curing them. Keratosis pilaris bumps will come if therapy is stopped.
To treat the bumps of keratosis , the physician may recommend a topical cream or lotion containing:
Ø Prescription-strength alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid)
Ø Prescription-strength urea
Ø A retinoid such as tretinoin or tazarotene
Ø High concentrations of propylene glycol
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