An overview of keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is one of the most common types of skin conditions and is characterized by small bumps on the skin that often last long. This skin condition is harmless but is still disliked by people who suffer from it as it appears to be a large bumpy rash on the skin. Although keratosis pilaris can affect anybody at any stage of their life, it often occurs in people when they are in their adolescence and childhood.

This condition is called keratosis pilaris because it is caused by the excess build-up of keratin, a skin protein. When keratin is in excess, it blocks the skin pores or hair follicles, thereby forming small and hard bumps. While doctors know the cause behind the skin condition, they have still not understood the reason behind the excess build-up of keratin in the first place. People with dry skin may have a risk of developing this condition. It is also often noticed that keratosis pilaris occurs when there is already another underlying skin condition like dermatitis.

Signs and symptoms
The appearance of keratosis pilaris often helps people identify the condition. When a person’s skin develops this condition, they can see that their skin has acne-like bumps on the affected area, and it has a rough appearance.

Common areas that can get affected by keratosis pilaris are upper arms, the chest, thighs, and the face. The affected areas don’t cause any pain, but important symptoms to notice are itching and irritation and the redness caused by itching.

Diagnosis and treatments
Keratosis pilaris does not require any tests for diagnosis, as that can be done through skin examination. Furthermore, this condition doesn’t require medical treatment as it often disappears when the person reaches the age of 30. However, there are several measures one can take to reduce the symptoms. These measures are mentioned below:

  • Avoid scratching the affected area in order to reduce inflammation and redness
  • Be gentle with the skin and stop the use of any harsh chemicals that can make the skin dry
  • Wash the skin with warm (not hot) water and mild soap
  • Gentle patting for drying wet skin is better than rubbing with a cloth or towel
  • Also, one can use a plain cotton cloth for pat drying the skin
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing to avoid friction by tight clothes

Creams and lotions for reducing symptoms
While there are no treatments available for curing keratosis pilaris, people can apply creams and lotions on the affected areas to reduce itching and redness. Mild over-the-counter creams are also available; however, the stronger versions of those creams need a doctor’s prescription. When these creams are applied on the affected area every day, the skin’s condition starts improving.

Laser treatment
In some severe cases where the patient is unable to deal with keratosis pilaris, doctors recommend laser treatment for the patient for relief from the symptoms. The laser treatment gets completed after several sessions and does not cure the condition; it only provides relief.