SkinCare Physicians

Winter is coming: A dermatologist’s tips for managing keratosis pilaris

Published on Nov 22nd, 2019 by Jeffrey Sobell

Keratosis pilaris (KP) on backs of arms of an adolescent

Photo courtesy of The Primary Care Dermatology Society

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin condition that appears as tiny rough bumps on the skin. SkinCare Physicians’ dermatologist explains why it is harmless and shares tips that can be helpful should it bother you.

Keratosis pilaris develops most often on the backs of arms and on the fronts of thighs. In young children, the bumps may also be present on the cheeks. The appearance may be reminiscent of goose bumps or the skin of a plucked chicken. Others mistake the bumps for small pimples. In reality, KP is just plugs of dry skin around the hair follicles. And like dry skin in general, KP tends to be more apparent in cold weather.

Keratosis pilaris (KP) on the cheeks of a child

Photo courtesy of The Primary Care Dermatology Society

Keratosis pilaris usually begins early in life. Fewer adults have it because the condition tends to get better over time. It is more common in those with a history of atopy (eczema, asthma or hay fever), extremely dry skin or having a close relative with the condition.

Fortunately, keratosis pilaris is harmless, so you don’t need to treat it. But if it is uncomfortable or the appearance bothers you, there are treatments that can be helpful. Here are some general tips:
1) Exfoliate: Use a loofah or rough washcloth with a moisturizing cleanser in the bath or shower to soften the bumps. Be gentle; do not aggressively scrub. Exfoliate once a day as needed.
2) Shower quickly: Long hot showers/baths tend to dry the skin and may worsen KP.
3) Hydrate: Use a moisturizer immediately after bathing. Creams are better than lotions; helpful ingredients that are available in several over the counter products include lactic acid, urea, salicylic acid and/or ceramides. Moisturizing 2-3 times daily, more be even more helpful.
4) Humidify: Place a humidifier in the home, particularly during the cold winter months.
5) Maintain: Treat your skin with exfoliation and hydration at least a few times a week. Since you cannot cure KP, this maintenance regimen is key.

For stubborn or more extensive KP, see your dermatologist for a customized therapeutic approach. Possible treatments include:
1) Prescription emollients and/or chemical exfoliators
2) Antibiotic creams or pills if bacteria infect the lesions
3) Topical corticosteroids or immunomodulators
4) Retinoid pills for extensive involvement
5) Lasers to reduce redness or to remove hair

We at SkinCare Physicians wish you a very cozy winter, with smooth and comfortable skin!

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Chestnut Hill, MA (617) 731-1600

SkinCare Physicians®
1244 Boylston Street (Route 9)
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

Phone: (617) 731-1600 Fax: (617) 731-1601

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SkinCare Physicians®
1244 Boylston Street (Route 9)
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

Phone: (617) 731-1600 Fax: (617) 731-1601

Medical Website Design & Marketing by Etna Interactive

The dermatologists and other medical professionals at SkinCare Physicians specialize in a wide range of dermatology treatments and services, including laser hair removal, laser skin treatment, hair transplant, eyelid surgery, body contouring, psoriasis, skin cancer, BOTOX® Cosmetic, fillers, and Thermage®. From their offices in Chestnut Hill, they serve Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Wellesley.