Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common condition affecting approximately half of the population. It is caused by dead skin cells forming a plug in the hair follicle. One third to a half of patients have other family members with this condition.

Presentation:
Keratosis Pilaris presents as tiny bumps usually found on the outer part of the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and cheeks. These bumps can be flesh-colored or slightly red and can feel rough. Sometiimes a coiled hair can be caught within these bumps. On occasion these bumps may itch but they usually have no symptoms. This condition is usually worse in the winter than summer and more common in children and young adults, but may continue later into adulthood.

Associations with other conditions:
This condition may be associated with dry skin, asthma and allergies, or in rare occasions a severe form of dry skin condnition called Icthyosis Vulgaris. If you suspect these associations please contact a dermatologist.

Treatment:
Keratosis pilaris is a benign condition that only needs treatment for cosmetic reasons. Mild exfoliating cream are most effective in removing the excess skin causing the plug in the hair follicles. Some examples are urea, lactic acid, salicylic acid and retinoid creams. These treatments must be used on a continuous basis otherwise the condition will recur.
References:
Lateef A, Schwartz RA: Keratosis pilaris. Cutis 1999 Apr; 63(4): 205-7

External links: www.keratosispilaris.org

Robyn Siperstein, M.D.
Department of Dermatology
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
New Jersey Medical School.