Keratosis Pilaris

General Illness Information

Medical Term:
Keratosis Pilaris

Common Name: None Specified

Description: A common skin disorder in which the openings of the hair follicles become filled with hard plugs. Commonly on the back of upper arms, front of thighs or buttocks. It more often affects children and young adults. It is not contagious.

Causes: Unknown, but it may be hereditary. These commonly occur in association with allergic dermatitis.

Prevention: Cannot be prevented at present.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Papules (small, raised bumps) with the following characteristics:
  • Papules are small, firm and white, with a dry “sandpaper” feeling.
  • Papules are clustered. Each one is about 1 mm 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.

Risk Factors

  • History of skin allergies.
  • Family history of keratosis pilaris.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis is made by history and examination.

General Measures:

  • 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.

Medications:

Medicine usually is not necessary for this disorder.

Activity:

No restrictions.

Diet:

No special diet.

Possible Complications:

Secondary infection of papules.

Prognosis

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.

Other

‘Nothing Specified’.

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