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Keratosis Pilaris

Also known as follicular keratosis, Keratosis Pilaris is a hereditary skin disorder that causes goosebump-like lesions on the back of the arms, thighs or buttocks. The patches of bumps tend to get dry and itchy, particularly during the winter months. Keratosis pilaris occurs at any age. Because it is hereditary, there is no method of prevention. In some cases, it goes away on its own over time; in other cases, the condition is chronic. Keratosis pilaris is not harmful, however, it is very difficult to treat.

This condition develops when the skin produces too much of a protein called keratin, which can block hair follicles and cause bumps to develop. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. No one knows exactly why keratin builds up. To help alleviate symptoms, be sure to keep the affected area moistened at all times and avoid harsh soaps. The condition isn’t often serious and usually disappears by age 30.

Treatment options include prescriptions for:

  • Medicated creams or lotions with 12 percent ammonium lactate that softens the affected skin.
  • Moisturizers (urea) that help loosen and remove dead skin cells.
  • Topical corticosteroids for short-term, temporary relief of symptoms.
  • Topical retinoids that increase cell turnover, which reduces the plugging of hair follicles.