DESCRIPTIONKeratosis pilaris is a common skin disorder in which the openings of the hair follicles become filled with hard plugs. These are not contagious. The skin on the back of the upper arms and the front of the thighs or buttocks is involved. Keratosis pilaris affects children and young adults.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSPapules are small, firm, and white, with a dry "sandpaper" feeling.
Papules are clustered. Each one is about 1mm in size.
Papules are at the openings of hair follicles. They can be scooped out with the fingernails.
When scooped out, a papule usually contains a coiled hair inside of white, semisolid material.
Papules don't itch or hurt.
Papules (small raised bumps) with the following characteristics:
CAUSESUnknown, but it may be hereditary. Papules commonly occur in association with allergic dermatitis and several types of ichthyosis, both of which have strong hereditary links.
Lesions similar--possibly identical--to those of keratosis pilaris appear in persons with vitamin A deficiency.
RISK FACTORSHistory of skin allergies.
Family history of keratosis pilaris.
Poor nutrition, especially vitamin A deficiency.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented at present.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Biopsy (See Glossary).
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSSecondary infection of papules.
Keratosis pilaris is a chronic, harmless skin problem with no permanent cure. Individual papules may come and go over a matter of weeks. All gradually disappear by age 30.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Take long soaking tub baths.
Use mild, unscented soap.
Scrub gently with a stiff brush to remove the plugs in the follicles temporarily.
Apply lubricating ointments or creams to the affected areas 6 or 7 times a day. The most useful time is immediately after bathing, when lubrication helps the skin retain moisture.
MEDICATIONMedicine usually is not necessary for this disorder.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Signs of infection develop around the keratoses pilaris. Signs include pain or tenderness, redness, swelling, and fever of 101F (38.3C) or higher.