Keratosis pilaris is an ongoing condition experienced by many. Affecting as many as 50-80% of adolescents and approximately 40% of adults, it’s important to understand what this condition is and how it can be treated.
Although there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, some remedies can help soothe symptoms of keratosis pilaris, including dryness and itchiness.
What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is a common, chronic condition that causes small, scaly bumps on the skin. It gets its name from the protein responsible for the patches of small, rough bumps you experience — keratin. Symptoms arise when there is an overproduction of keratin, which then builds up in your hair follicles.
Since this condition surfaces anywhere there are hair follicles, symptoms are most common on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks, as well as on the cheeks and torso. Many patients are unaware that these bumps are keratosis pilaris, preventing them from getting the help they need to improve their symptoms and quality of life.
Although experts aren’t exactly sure what causes keratosis pilaris, genetic variables may play a role. In one key 2018 study, researchers analyzed 147 genes associated with 143 genetic skin diseases. Keratosis pilaris was associated with the mutation of the ABCA12 gene. This same mutation was present in affected family members, but not the healthy family members. It was concluded that ABCA12 mutations or alterations, in expression, may contribute to the development of keratosis pilaris.
This condition has also been linked to atopic dermatitis and eczema.
What Are the Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris?
Symptoms of keratosis pilaris can develop at any age, but this condition is most common in children.
These symptoms include:
- Tiny painless bumpers that develop most commonly on the upper arms and thighs
- When you have bumps, these areas will be rough and the skin will be dry
- Bumps that typically worsen with the seasons, especially when humidity is low
- When it comes to the genetics of keratosis pilaris, research suggests that it is an autosomal dominant disorder. This means you only need to inherit one copy of the gene to develop this skin condition.
- In most cases, keratosis pilaris develops early — sometimes, before a child is two years old. Most experience flare-ups during adolescence and then many cases fade once an individual reaches adulthood.
- Although bumps are typically red, this isn’t always the case. On fair skin, the bumps associated with keratosis pilaris are often lighter and redder. However, they can also be brown, white, light purple, or black — it all depends on your personal skin tone.
- Temperature and humidity can dry out your skin, making symptoms worse. For many individuals with keratosis pilaris, their condition often worsens in the winter and when they’ve been out in the sun. Unprotected sun exposure can also darken patches, making them more apparent.
- Asthma and keratosis pilaris may be linked. The American Academy of Dermatology Association reported that people with eczema, dry skin, hay fever, and asthma are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris. Although asthma and keratosis pilaris may not be directly linked, if you are atopic (have dry skin and a high tendency for allergies) and have asthma, you may face a higher risk of developing keratosis pilaris.
How to Improve Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris
The best thing you can do to improve symptoms of keratosis pilaris is working to prevent them altogether.
- Since flare-ups typically occur when your skin is dry, it’s important to moisturize daily. You can emollient cream that contains nature’s beeswax like Cutemol Emollient Cream.
- Shaving or waxing can further irritate your bumps, which is why you can consider laser removal
- Limit baths and showers to one a day, using warm vs hot water
- If the air is dry, plug in a humidifier
- Use mild soaps
- Avoid using any self-tanner
Once flare-ups surface, you’ll want to treat both the bumps and your dry skin.
First, gently exfoliate. Lightly exfoliate with a soft cloth or loofah. Do NOT scrub your skin.
Next, you’ll want to apply a keratolytic, such as Keralyt 5 Cream or Keralyt Gel 3%. This will help you remove the buildup of dead skin cells. There are plenty of skin products on the market. However, not all are created equal.
Choose a product that contains one of the following:
- Lactic acid
- Salicylic acid
A key study found that 5% salicylic acid is beneficial when aiming to treat keratosis pilaris. As reported by the researchers, although this condition is not life-threatening or physically debilitating, it affects individuals both socially and psychologically. Using a cream that contains lactic acid or salicylic acid can significantly improve symptoms and your overall quality of life.
You should also apply a moisturizer when your skin feels dry, using a quality product 2-3 times a day, as well as after bathing.
How Summer Laboratories Can Help
Summer Laboratories offers a wide range of skincare options for the entire family.
Two products we frequently recommended for keratosis pilaris are:
Keralyt-5 Gel. This gel exfoliates with salicylic acid, removing rough patches while soothing your psoriasis symptoms. You can use this product on both your scalp and skin.
Keralyt-5 Cream. This unique cream helps improve scaling and roughness for healthier-looking skin. It specifically targets thick-crusted scale and plaques.
If you’re ready to take greater control over your keratosis pilaris symptoms, Summer Laboratories is here for you.