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Keratosis pilaris: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a benign and non-serious skin condition which results from the accumulation of keratin (a type of protein in the skin) within the hair follicles. The skin though the largest organ of body, is very sensitive.

Keratosis pilaris: Incidence, age and sex

Keratosis pilaris is a fairly common skin problem encountered in the general population. It may be seen in any age group but is more common in teenagers. Its incidence increases in the winter season.

Signs and symptoms of keratosis pilaris: Diagnosis

The predominant clinical feature of keratosis pilaris, is the altered appearance of skin of certain parts of the body like upper arms, thighs, buttocks and face. The skin in these areas becomes red and small flesh-coloured bumps appear on it. The affected skin feels dry and rough. However, these skin lesions are typically non-itching in nature.

The condition can be easily diagnosed on physical examination by a skin specialist. Investigations are not required to detect this condition.

Causes and prevention of keratosis pilaris

The exact cause of keratosis pilaris is not clear. It generally results from accumulation of keratin (a type of protein in the skin) which progresses to form plugs within hair follicles. Individuals who have eczema or atopic dermatitis, dry skin are especially prone to formation of such keratin plugs. Moreover it has also been seen to run in families.

No specific preventive measures are applicable for keratosis pilaris, but taking care of dry skin may help some individuals in avoiding the occurrence of keratosis pilaris. It is advisable to use moisturizing creams especially in winters, to keep skin well-hydrated. Furthermore, use of humidifier in winters also help in preventing loss of moisture from the skin.

Keratosis pilaris: Complications

Generally, keratosis pilaris does not cause any complications. However in rare cases, it may lead to superimposed bacterial infection of skin lesions. The only other complication of keratosis pilaris is that the physical appearance gets hampered. Since it affects teenage individuals, any problem in physical appearance may lead to immense distress.

Keratosis pilaris: Treatment

There is no specific treatment of keratosis pilaris. Supportive measures like adequate use of moisturizing lotions and creams may alleviate the symptoms. Sometimes, medicated skin creams containing retinoid or vitamin A, may also be prescribed. The prognosis of keratosis pilaris varies with from individual to individual. The condition may resolve spontaneously with age, in some individuals. On the other hand, keratosis pilaris may also progress to adulthood in certain individuals.