Skin Bumps: Keratosis Pilaris Indications & Remedies

Have you ever noticed rough patches with tiny bumps on the back of your arms or thighs, maybe on your cheeks? These bumps may seem like acne or little pimples at first glance, but these bumps actually may be keratosis pilaris. This condition has different properties than acne, and should be treated differently.

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The skin bumps associated with keratosis pilaris are caused by a buildup of keratin. Keratin is the protein our bodies produce to help protect our skin from harmful things and infections. In keratosis pilaris, the keratin builds up too much, and blocks the opening of a hair follicle, this creates the rough bumpy patches on the skin. The bumps are different from acne because acne is caused from a buildup in the pores from oil or bacteria, whereas with keratosis pilaris the buildup is keratin and backed up hair follicles. Doctors are not sure what causes this buildup.

Keratosis pilaris is most common in children and young adults. For most young people who struggle with the condition, the skin bumps of keratosis pilaris usually decline by the age of thirty, but sometimes symptoms will last into adulthood.

It is common for keratosis pilaris to be mistaken for acne breakouts, which usually leads to ineffective treatment. Keratosis pilaris cannot be prevented, but symptoms can be minimized through treatment at home. Skin bumps may be more noticeable and bothersome when the skin is dry, so keep your skin moisturized and keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use a gentle, creamy soap for washing and bathing.
  • Soaps with natural jojoba oil will keep skin supple and comfortable, without clogging pores.
  • Avoid taking very hot showers or washing hands with hot water.
  • Moisturize after every shower or bath. Use thick, natural, cream moisturizers for the body.
  • Add more moisture to your home by using a humidifier.
  • Creams containing alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid may help breakdown the keratin blockages (these treatments may cause redness and sun-sensitivity. They are also not recommended for children or pregnant women).

Keratosis pilaris can be a frustrating condition. The skin bumps may come and go depending on climate and changes in the body. If symptoms are unmanageable with home treatment, a dermatologist or doctor will be able provide additional help.

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