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One of the most common complaints in Bangalore is the recent onset of tiny bumps seen on the sides of arms, thighs, and backs commonly referred to as ‘Keratosis Pilaris.' Let us talk about this harmless but annoying skin condition.
The name itself is self-explanatory - ‘keratosis’ means dead skin ( the tough horny outer layer of the skin) while ‘pilaris’ comes from the Latin for hair (pilus). In keratosis pilaris, many small (1 to 2 mm across) horny plugs can be seen blocking the hair follicles on the upper and outer parts of the arms and thighs. These can look like goosebumps but feels slightly rough.
It is mostly genetic in nature( 50 -70%), but causes are not fully understood. It has a definite association with dry skin and atopy( tendency to have an allergy).
The groups of small bumps are most common on the backs of the upper arms and on the fronts of the thighs. Sometimes keratosis pilaris also affects the back and chest and, in less common forms, the face and eyebrows as well. Some redness may appear around the small bumps. They are otherwise asymptomatic.
There are no specific tests for keratosis pilaris; however, your doctor will recognise it easily. A biopsy is seldom needed, especially if it is associated with acne or eczema that do not get better with treatment and the biopsy is to explain that the person has two conditions, not one, and one of them will not be cured (the keratosis pilaris).
No; however, it often (but not always) does clear up during adult life. Certain creams containing alpha hydroxy acids like Glycolic acid and Lactic acid are helpful and can improve their appearance. Use of a good moisturiser (especially the ones containing urea) and a non-comedogenic sunscreen would give an added advantage.
Keep your skin moisturised and hydrated.
Avoid waxing your hair in a direction opposite to hair growth.