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Keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris, is a common skin condition that can cause tiny, painless bumps to appear on the upper arms, lower cheeks, thighs and buttocks.

The bumps are typically flesh-coloured, but they might look red or pink on lighter skin tones and brown or black on darker skin tones. These bumps are harmless and often go away on their own. However, some people have to deal with flare-ups for their entire lives.

Keratosis pilaris happens when keratin — a protein involved in forming hair, skin and nails — builds up and, along with dead skin cells, clogs hair follicles. These blockages are what cause those small bumps.

It is a very common condition with an estimated 40 percent of adults and 50 to 80 percent of teenagers who have keratosis pilaris.

People who have eczema, diabetes or close blood relatives with keratosis pilaris are also more prone to the condition. The same is true for people with asthma, allergies or excess body weight, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

People with dry skin appear to be more susceptible to keratosis pilaris, so may be more prone in winter months. 

Preventing dry skin is one of the best ways to reduce flare-ups. Omega 3 intake may help, as there is a theory that the condition may be linked to low levels of omega. 

Products that contain emollients (moisturisers) and keratolytic agents - these are e a class of compounds that break down the outer layers of the skin and can decrease the thickness of psoriatic plaques. This class of compounds includes salicylic acid (2%–10%), urea (20%–40%), and alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acids). Look for an over the counter moisturiser which contains lactic or glycolic acid .

The A.A.D. also recommends products with other keratolytics like glycolic acid and retinol. These ingredients help smooth out the bumps and reduce redness. And there are most effective if you apply them right after showering when your skin is still damp. 

Avoid abrasive body scrub or scratching or picking at the bumps. Use a loofah or facecloth to slough off dead skin cells. It is best to avoid products with fragrances and oils, which can irritate the skin and clog pores even more. 


But your symptoms might also be from something else. Eczema and psoriasis can resemble keratosis pilaris. These conditions can cause itchiness, inflammation, cracks in the skin or infections, and need their own specific treatments.

March 02, 2024

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