Not a day goes by that a patient does not ask me about an extremely common condition called keratosis pilaris (KP). Although KP can be irritating, this condition is harmless.
Keratosis pilaris is hereditary, and affects about 50% or more of teenagers and about 40% of adults. It is more common in females and people with dry skin or eczema. Flare-ups most often worsen in the winter when the air is dry and the skin looses its moisture.
KP often looks like “goose bumps” or “chicken skin.” Patients will have small, rough bumps generally found on the backs of the arms, thighs, buttocks, and face. The skin around the bumps may be reddish pink and itchy.
There are many treatments for KP, but I always like to remind patients that KP does not need to be treated if it is not bothersome. Treatments can be time consuming and can take up to two months before you see results. Also, once the treatments are stopped, KP will reappear.
- Once or twice a day moisturize the skin with a thick, non-fragrant moisturizing cream. It is important to apply the moisturizer after you shower or bathe to help the skin lock in the moisture.
- Alternatively, you can try an exfoliating lotion or cream. These contain urea, lactic acid, or glycolic acid. Use the exfoliating lotion once or twice per day. These creams are available over the counter, and without a prescription.
- If the over-the-counter creams and moisturizers do not work, ask your doctor about retinoid creams, which are available by prescription only.
- Peels and microdermabrasion are a nice way to improve the appearance of KP, especially before an important event. I usually recommend that the treatments be done two to four weeks apart, with the last treatment ending two weeks prior to the event.
About half of my patients will generally outgrow their KP, but some may see it persists through adulthood. For more information about KP visit www.mayoclinic.com/KP
Safe in the Sun
“Wear a beach cover-up when headed for an all-day outing in the sun. I actually love the sun shirts that have SPF woven into the fabric.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler
“The basic difference between a cream and a lotion is that cream is thicker. This allows for better emollition and hydration.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler