Keratosis Pilaris. With a name like that you’re probably wondering, “what in the world is that?” However, Keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition. It causes small, hard bumps that may make your skin feel like sandpaper.
The bumps are often light-colored. Some people say these bumps look like goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken. Others mistake the bumps for small pimples. They usually appear on your upper arms, thighs (front), and buttocks, sometimes with redness or swelling. They can also show up on your face, but that's less common. Children may have these bumps on their cheeks.
Keratosis pilaris can occur at any age, but it is more common in young children. Signs and symptoms include:
- Painless tiny bumps, typically on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks
- Dry, rough skin in the areas with bumps
- Worsening when seasonal changes cause low humidity and skin tends to be drier
- Sandpaper-like bumps resembling goose flesh
Except for some itching, keratosis pilaris doesn't hurt and doesn't get worse, and it usually will disappear as children and teens get older.
What Causes the Breakouts?
These rough-feeling bumps are plugging of dead skin cells. Keratosis pilaris results from the buildup of keratin, which is a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.
No one knows exactly why keratin builds up. But it may occur in association with genetic diseases or with other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. Dry skin tends to worsen this condition
If you have dry skin, you are more likely to have keratosis pilaris. It is usually worse in the winter months, because there is less moisture in the air, and then may clear up in the summer.
It often affects people with certain skin conditions, including eczema.
Your doctor can diagnose keratosis pilaris by looking at your skin. You do not need to be tested for it.
Is There a Cure?
Treatment for keratosis pilaris usually isn't necessary. But if you're concerned about the appearance of you or your child's skin, again consult your family doctor or a dermatologist. He or she can often make a diagnosis by examining the skin and the characteristic scaly bumps. Dry skin can make these bumps more noticeable. Again, many people say the bumps clear during the summer only to return in the winter. Keratosis pilaris is often considered a variant of normal skin. It can't be cured or prevented. So, treating dry skin often helps, and you can treat it with moisturizers to keep your skin moist to lessen its effects.