Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris (ker-uh-TOE-sis pih-LAIR-is) is a common skin condition that causes rough patches and small, acne-like bumps, usually on the arms, thighs, cheeks and buttocks. Keratosis pilaris bumps are usually white, sometimes red, and generally don't hurt or itch. Keratosis pilaris can be frustrating because it's difficult to treat. However, keratosis pilaris isn't often serious and usually disappears by age 30. In the meantime, prescription medications and self-care measures can improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris.

Symptoms Causes Prevention

Keratosis pilaris can occur at any age, although it's particularly common in young children. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Small white or red bumps, typically on the upper arms, legs, buttocks or cheeks
  • Dry, rough and sometimes itchy skin in the areas with bumps
  • Worsening in winter, when humidity is low and skin tends to be drier

Keratosis pilaris may be limited to individual, sandpaper-like bumps resembling goose flesh. In some cases, the bumps may become inflamed and cause scarring, especially on the face.

Gradually, keratosis pilaris usually resolves on its own.

When to see a doctor

Keratosis pilaris isn't often a serious medical condition, and treatment usually isn't necessary. However, if you're concerned about the appearance of your skin, consult your family doctor or a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist). He or she can often make a diagnosis by examining your skin and the characteristic scaly plugs.

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