Keratosis Pilaris – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Keratosis pilaris is a widely prevalent skin condition that is characterized by the formation of small acne-like bumps as well as irregular, rough skin patches across the body. The skin anomalies typically affect different parts of the body, but more commonly the thighs, buttocks, and arms. The bumps are usually whitish or red in color, and do not cause any pain or itchiness.
There are no known health complications that arise due to the presence of keratosis pilaris. However, patients may experience lowered self-esteem and become distressed by the sandpaper-like feel of the skin. In a majority of cases, the skin condition goes away on its own after an affected person becomes 30 years old. It is however possible for keratosis pilaris to persist in some patients.
Treatment of keratosis pilaris can be prolonged and tedious which can result in lots of frustration. Patients can however take solace from the fact that some self-care methods, lifestyle changes, and use of certain prescription medications will definitely aid in enhancement of the symptoms and the general appearance of the skin.
Symptoms of keratosis pilaris
Some of the signs and symptoms of keratosis pilaris are listed below:
- Development of tiny lumps that look like acne lesions. Such bumps are not painful and normally flesh colored. Sometimes, the skin abnormalities may change color and become reddish because of inflammation or swelling.
- Keratosis pilaris generally affects certain areas of the body such as the buttocks, arms, and lower limbs. Occasionally, the face may also experience an episode of this skin disorder. It may however be noted that keratosis pilaris bumps are different from pustular acne. The presence of dry and chapped skin along with the abnormal bumps is the distinctive feature.
- Even though the bumps are normally non-itchy, some patients may experience mild to severe itchiness.
- Keratosis pilaris mostly affects children. However, adults may also suffer from this skin abnormality. The sandy appearance of the skin may disappear during the summer months, but can and may reappear with a change in the climate.
- Patients may develop scars on the face after keratosis pilaris has been successfully eliminated. Fortunately, other affected areas of the body do not experience scarring post treatment.
Causes of keratosis pilaris
- Keratosis pilaris is caused due to an excessive buildup of keratin. Keratin is a type of dense protein which protects the body against the effects of hazardous matter and infections. Elevated levels of keratin lead to the formation of a scaly plug, which then causes the hair follicleopenings to crowd up and get clogged. Keratosis pilaris features the presence of several such scaly plugs, which eventually leads to the development of the characteristic clusters of bumps and rough skin patches.
- Scientists are not aware about the precise causes of excessive keratin collection. However, many researchers state that the anomaly tends to affect people with a genetic predisposition to the skin disorder in combination with varied other factors such as presence of skin diseases like atopic dermatitis or ichthyosis vulgaris.
- Keratosis pilaris has a tendency to become more severe and intense in people with dry skin. It is however important to remember that the skin abnormality can even affect healthy individuals.
Treatment of keratosis pilaris
There is no single standard procedure to treat the skin abnormalities associated with keratosis pilaris. Treatment is aimed at reduction of the excess keratin deposits via use of different types of topical drugs and varied self-care methods.
The below listed creams, ointments, and lotions may be used to treat keratosis pilaris:
- Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that enable decreased cell production by suppressing the immune system. Large sections of the body affected by keratosis pilaris as well as sensitive areas like the face are treated with hydrocortisone and other types of mild corticosteroid creams.Strong topical corticosteroids have several side effects and hence they are used in short bursts for temporary relief from the distressing symptoms.
- Retinoid creams are made from vitamin A. It efficiently manages the symptoms of keratosis pilaris by allowing cell turnover, thereby preventing blockage of hair follicles. Topical retinoids can also cause adverse side effects.
- Topical exfoliants help loosen skin, moisturize it, remove dead skin cells, etc. Hence, they are effective in fighting off keratosis pilaris symptoms. Exfoliants should only be used after consulting a doctor as it has serious side effects. Also, never use it on children.
Patients can improve the symptoms of keratosis pilaris by following the below listed self-care guidelines:
- Do not use harsh, drying soaps
- Avoid vigorously scrubbing the skin during a bath or shower, as such acts can worsen the skin anomalies
- Tap the body dry with a soft towel after baths or showers. Later, a moisturizer may be applied on the somewhat wet skin
- Humidify the air with the help of a humidifier, particularly in your house.