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Keratosis Pilaris - Symptoms & Treatment

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a very common genetic follicular condition that is manifested by the appearance of rough bumps on the skin and hence colloquially referred to as "chicken skin. It appears on the back and outer sides of the upper arms, but can also occur on thighs and buttocks or any body part except palms or soles. Keratosis pilaris is unsightly but completely harmless. There are several different types of keratosis pilaris, including keratosis pilaris rubra (red, inflamed bumps), alba (rough, bumpy skin with no irritation), rubra faceii (reddish rash on the cheeks) and related disorders. Keratosis pilaris tends to occur as excess keratin , a natural protein in the skin, accumulates around hair follicles.

Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris

Symptoms usually remit with increasing age.

  • General measures to prevent excessive skin dryness (eg, use of mild soaps) are recommended.
  • Some available therapeutic options include emollients, lactic acid, tretinoin cream, alpha-hydroxy acid lotions, urea cream, salicylic acid, and topical steroids. Mild cases may improve with emollients.
  • More prominent inflammatory eruptions may benefit from a limited 7-day course of a medium-potency, emollient-based topical steroid applied once or twice a day followed by a routine of twice-daily applications of a compound preparation of 2-3% salicylic acid in 20% urea cream. Advise the patient to gently massage lotions into the affected area. After attaining initial control, patients can then be placed on a maintenance regimen.
  • Although calcipotriol ointment has been used effectively for various forms of ichthyosis, it has not demonstrated a therapeutic effect for KP in clinical trials.

Causes of Keratosis Pilaris

The Causes of Keratosis Pilaris are below

  • The cause is unknown.
  • Keratosis pilaris often runs in families.
  • Keratosis pilaris is not dangerous or contagious
  • Dry skin conditions seem to exacerbate the disease.
  • Symptoms generally tend to worsen in winter and improve in summer.
  • A disorder of keratinisation in which the sticky cells that line the hair follicle form a horny plug instead of exfoliating.
  • Common associations include a family history of KP, ichthyosis, or atopic dermatitis.
  • Keratosis pilaris is genetic in origin but the precise cause has not yet been determined.

Treatment of Keratosis Pilaris

The treatments are follow

  • The best treatment is alpha hydroxyacid gel. This gel is fairly expensive but will go a long way if used sparingly. Alpha hydroxyacid gel is available without a prescription from this office. The gel should be applied to the involved areas once or twice a day.
  • Keratosis pilaris can be controlled with alpha hydroxyacid gel, but there is no cure for this condition.
  • Non-soap cleansers (soap may exacerbate the dryness)
  • Moisturising cream applied twice daily; try those containing urea , salicylic acid or alphahydroxy acids .
  • Rubbing with a pumice stone or a 'Buf-Puf' in the shower or bath
  • Topical retinoids , which are gels or creams available on prescription. For the first few weeks of treatment, redness and peeling of the treated areas can be expected. Topical retinoids are not suitable for young children and must not be used in pregnancy.
  • Pulse dye laser treatment : this may reduce the redness (at least temporarily), but not the roughness.
  • Laser assisted hair removal may also be of benefit in some cases.

Prevention tips

  • Measures should be taken to prevent excessive skin dryness.
  • Mild soaps and cleansers should be used.
  • Frequent application of emollients is very beneficial.
Skin Diseases

Atopic Eczema
Acanthosis Nigricans
Skin Tumor
Skin Cancers
Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
Eye Stye
Pyoderma faciale
Seborrhoeic dermatitis
Solar (senile) comedones
Steroid acne
Steroid rosacea
Granuloma faciale
Jessner's lymphocytic infiltrate
Perioral Dermatitis
Poikiloderma of Civatte
Pseudofolliculitis barbae (shaving bumps)
Actinic Keratoses
Ageing skin
Cutaneous lupus erythematosus
Chloasma (melasma)
Dermatitis (eczema)

Atopic Dermatitis
Acne Treatment
Athlete's Foot
Bullous Pemphigoid
Chapped Lips
Dark Circles
Fordyce's Condition
Granuloma Annulare
Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Herpes Simplex
Herpes Zoster
Keratosis Pilaris
Lichen Striatus
Lichen Sclerosus
Molluscum Contagiosum
Malignant Melanoma
Pityriasis Alba
Pityriasis Rosea
Telogen Effluvium

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