What Does Keratosis Pilaris Look Like?
What is keratosis pilaris?
When does keratosis pilaris occur?
Diagnosis and treatment
What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is considered to be a harmless and common type of skin condition which leads to dry, rough patches on the skin along with tiny bumps. It is known to mostly occur on the upper arm, buttocks, thighs, and cheek region. Most of the time, these bumps are not itchy and do not lead to any kind of pain. Keratosis pilaris is something that cannot be cured or prevented, but there are various prescription creams and moisturizers that can help the skin’s appearance. This skin condition is known to mostly disappear by the time the individual reaches the age of 30.
This skin condition is known to occur at any age, but it is seen as a common occurrence in small children. A few of the symptoms an individual with keratosis pilaris would experience are:
- In the area where there are bumps, the skin would be quite dry and rough.
- The bumps would be mostly small in size and often painless. It would mostly appear in the upper arms, buttocks, thighs, or cheeks.
- When there is a change in season leading to low humidity, the skin would become more dry and the condition would worsen.
- There would be bumps which would be like sandpaper.
Keratosis pilaris normally appears as a small, rough bump that is present on the skin. These bumps are mostly red, but can be white in color as well and are also accompanied by scaly or dry skin. A few individuals have remarked that these bumps on the skin tend to look like goosebumps or chicken flesh.
Keratosis pilaris is said to be the result of a buildup of a protein known as keratin. It is a hard protein that protects the skin from any kind of infection or harmful substance. Keratin is known to form a scaly plug which tends to block the opening of the hair follicle. In most cases, multiple plugs form, leading to patches that are rough, as well as bumpy skin. There is still no sure cause as to why there is a keratin buildup, but it is known to occur along with other forms of genetic diseases or with the other types of skin conditions which also include atopic dermatitis. Certain studies have suggested that it can also be a genetically dominant trait, wherein if one of the parents has keratosis pilaris, then there is a significant risk for the child to develop the skin condition, too. If the skin is dry, then there are chances that this condition can worsen. Those individuals who already suffer from dry skin, skin-related allergies, and eczema are also at an increased risk of developing keratosis pilaris. Cold and dry weather has a tendency to worsen the condition as well.
There is some research that does not agree with the statement that keratosis pilaris can be caused due to a buildup of keratin. Despite all the uncertainty surrounding this skin condition, keratosis pilaris is not linked to any complicated or serious form of medical condition. The bumps caused by keratosis pilaris do not turn cancerous, nor are they contagious. However, if this condition is left untreated, it can lead to the worsening of the bumps and, as time passes, it would become harder to deal with them. But appropriate management at home can help relieve the cosmetic concerns and also prevent this condition from worsening.
Most of the time, an individual would not need to go see the doctor to treat keratosis pilaris, and if you do go, then the doctor would be able to diagnose the condition by carrying out a physical examination of the skin that has become infected. There would be no need for any further testing.
Keratosis pilaris is considered to be a harmless skin condition and thus does not need much medical treatment unless it becomes severe. Hence, most of the time, the symptoms can be managed at home. If the bumps caused due to keratosis pilaris are not bothersome in any way, then some people would be happy not to do anything about it. Below are a few of the strategies one can carry out to reduce the appearance of the bumps and also prevent them from becoming severe:
Be sure to moisturize daily: As mentioned previously, individuals who suffer from dryness in the skin are very prone to keratosis pilaris. When the skin is dry, it tends to itch, and this constant scratching can irritate the keratosis pilaris bumps. Dry skin also has a tendency to make the appearance of the bumps and the skin rough and scaly, thereby worsening the condition. In such cases, one can try to use creams that are specially designed for very dry skin and also for eczema treatment. Individuals should be sure to apply this cream in a very thick layer after taking a warm shower so as to maximize the absorption. Individuals who have very dry skin should ensure to moisturize several times a day, which would also include any time when they feel an itching sensation or when the skin feels extremely dry. Try to apply moisturizer that contains lanolin, petroleum jelly, or glycerin since these ingredients are known to provide comfort for the skin and also help in trapping moisture. Apply them several times a day.
If the moisturizing creams do not provide much help, then the doctor can also prescribe certain medicated creams:
- Creams for the removal of dead skin cells: There are creams which contain lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, and urea or salicylic acid which can help in loosening as well as removing dead skin cells. These creams are also known to moisturize and soften dry skin. Based on their strength, these creams are made available either over the counter or with a prescription. The doctor would be the best one to advise on the cream that is suitable for your skin and how often it should be applied.
- Creams for the prevention of plugged follicles: Creams which are derived from vitamin A are known to work by promoting cell turnover and also prevent plugged hair follicles. A few examples of topical retinoids are tazarotene and tretinotin. But these products have a tendency to cause irritation to the skin or make it dry, hence, use them with care.
Limit bath time and use warm water: Long shower or bath times and use of hot water have a tendency to remove the oil from the skin. Hence, one should reduce or limit the shower time to just ten minutes or less, and also try using warm water instead of hot water.
Be gentle to your skin: Try to avoid the use of harsh soaps or those that have a tendency to dry the skin. Gently remove the dead skin cells with the help of a loofah or washcloth. Do not scrub vigorously and do not remove the hair follicles since it can lead to irritation of the skin and may also aggravate the condition. Once you are done with washing or bathing, gently blot the skin with the help of a towel so that the moisture remains on the skin.