First Signs, Risk Factors, and Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris

keratosis pilaris

First Signs, Risk Factors, and Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris

Small bumps on arms, legs, or other parts of the body are known as keratosis pilaris in clinical terms. Studies show these simple red bumps on the back of your arms can also be a cause of a serious health issue. 

Small bumps on arms are quite common and mostly harmless. However, changing and enlarging bumps over time can be a sign of certain conditions.

One of the causes of red bumps on arms is keratosis pilaris. Usually, these trigger harmless and troublesome signs like dryness or itchiness that might require treatment.

Inadequate information on the health condition often leads to misconceptions and the development of myths. This small guide on keratosis pilaris shares everything you need to know about it.


What is Keratosis Pilaris? 

A mild skin condition, keratosis pilaris, leads to small stiff bumps on the skin. These bumps encompass additional keratin, a protein present in the skin, hair, and nails.

The problem arises due to a buildup of dead skin cells.

In toddlers and young kids, it generally appears on cheeks but can also form on the thighs and arms. In adults and older kids, the skin issue usually develops on the buttocks, thighs, and upper arms.

What Does Keratosis Pilaris Look Like?
Typically, the skin issue begins developing when the skin is dry, especially during the winter months. When the temperature increases, these red bumps on arms and other body parts disappear. Moreover, Keratosis Pilaris can also result in dry, rough patches. Or they might remind you of pimples, goosebumps, or rashes.

Other features of Raised Skin Bumps include itchiness and dryness. They may be white, red, or skin-colored.

You may have encountered itchy bumps on the skin like mosquito bites. A strong probability is that you have the condition. So, How Do You Know If You Have Keratosis Pilaris? Well, knowing the early symptoms and signs can help.


First Signs and Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris

Anyone can experience this skin condition irrespective of their age.

Still, young children are the most common patient. The knowledge of Early Signs and Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris can help in diagnosis.

Some Common Keratosis Pilaris Symptoms Include:

  • Dry and rough skin in the affected area
  • Painless small red bumps on arms, thighs, cheeks, or buttocks
  • Bumps exacerbating with seasonal changes leading to low humidity and dry skin
  • Bumps with a sandpaper-like texture
  • Redness appearing like inflammation

When to See a Medical Specialist?

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment isn’t a compulsion. Still, if your child’s skin condition causes concern, the best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment for Kids would be a consultation with your family doctor. We would recommend you to better seek advice from a skin specialist (dermatologist).


Is Keratosis Pilaris Dangerous | Top Risk Factors

Bumps on my arms that look like pimples, is it concerning?

You might be concerned about this skin condition. Our findings indicate it isn’t dangerous. Nonetheless, in certain circumstances, it can be worrisome.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD),

Often the condition begins appearing even before a kid turns 2. Moreover, almost 50-80% of adolescents and a minimum of 40% of Americans have the skin condition. 

A study on the Natural history of keratosis pilaris over 50 people over the course of 20 years has some surprising outcomes:

  • 39% had family history whereas 55% had no family history of KP, and 6% didn’t know. 
  • 37% had a family history of atopy, 16% had dry skin, and the rest 47% had neither. 
  • Seasonal variation of KP developed in 80%, 49% had improvement in summer, whereas 47% cases worsened during the winters.
  • Over 35% of patients’ cases improved with age. In contrast, 43% of patients experienced no difference and 22% of cases worsened. 

Besides, some other aspects contribute to the development of this skin condition. We have shared them below:

What Can Trigger Keratosis Pilaris?

  • A family history of the issue
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Diabetes
  • Hay fever
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Usually dry skin
  • Down syndrome
  • Obesity 
  • Ichthyosis Vulgaris, a state causing dry skin

Alternatively, it may develop as a side effect of vemurafenib, a medication used for treating melanoma.


Keratosis Pilaris Causes

Small Bumps on Arms That Don’t Itch seem like just another skin issue. High chances lie that it can be Keratosis Pilaris.

The exact trigger of the skin condition is unknown to science. 

It might develop because of the excessive production of the keratin of the skin producing hyperkeratinization.

On the contrary, it can also develop due to some flaws in hair formation, creating defective sebaceous glands. This somewhat clarifies keratosis pilaris’ physical connotation with hair follicles.

Most patients develop skin issues due to a known genetic predisposition and family history. The tiny bumps on the arms can also appear with asthma, seasonal inhalant allergies (hay fever), ichthyosis Vulgaris, eczema, dry skin, rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.

The bumps in Keratosis Pilaris appear due to excess buildup of keratin from the shallow layer of skin at distinct hair follicles.

Examination under the microscope shows slight clotting and perforation of the hair follicle. The expansion of small exterior blood vessels of upper skin layers leads to the red inflamed appearance.

Studies Reveal Bizarre Facts About Keratosis Pilaris

Recently, several studies have shown surprising outcomes in terms of keratosis pilaris on arms, cheeks, and thighs in the different age groups.

A short recap of them can help you better understand the skin condition with small pimples on the arms.

According to the observations and earlier documented histological data of KP, NCBI has shared sound conclusions.

Keratosis Pilaris may not be a mayhem of keratinization. Instead, it may result due to the circular hair shaft breaking the follicular epithelium resulting in inflammation and abnormal follicular keratinization. 

A Study on Jama Network in the Jama Dermatology segment suggests the probable cause of small bumps on arms that itch.

The outcomes support the genetic and clinical heterogeneity among the disorders of keratosis pilaris atrophicans. This may occur because of a disorder of the keratinocyte. In fact, it is accountable for hyperkeratosis and inflammatory modification.

Another study on Jama Network reveals the two variants of KP.

The 2 known distinct variants of KP are #1 Keratosis Pilaris Atrophicans (KPA) and Erythromelanosis Follicularis Faciei Et Colli (EFFC). 

27 patients had another variant, which they termed Keratosis Pilaris Rubra (KPR), which is more common than KPA or EFFC.

These studies have explored different areas of keratosis pilaris causing little red bumps on arms. From the possibility of different causes to different variants of the health condition, more studies are needed to come up with sounder pieces of evidence.

Nonetheless, a few key questions about these small bumps on arms and different body parts are answerable.


Does Keratosis Pilaris Affect the Whole Body?

Rarely, a patient suffers from keratosis pilaris on the entire body. Mostly, the lesion of the derma condition is present on the back of the upper arms.

Still, it isn’t the only body part where you can experience white bumps on arms. 

The other common locations you can experience keratosis pilaris on are:

  • thighs, 
  • back, and
  • buttocks

There are also some cases of Keratosis Pilaris on Face.

Note: It doesn’t appear on the mouth, eyes, palms, or soles.


Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris

If you’re facing complications, Keratosis Pilaris Treatment is necessary. A skin specialist or dermatologist does the diagnosis by examining the affected skin.

Usually, there’s no requirement for a special test; only a thorough examination of these small bumps is enough.

Typically, the dermatological condition resolves gradually. However, applying skin products recommended by your specialist can help in improving the appearance as well.

In case, moisturizing, and other self-care measures don’t help, your dermatologist might recommend medicated creams. These are fairly easy treatments and ways to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris.

#1: Creams for Removing Dead Skin Cells

Skin creams having lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, or urea are helpful. They dampen the dead skin cells and help in removal while moisturizing and softening the dry skin.

Varying on their power, a Keratosis Pilaris Cream is either available with a prescription or over-the-counter. Nevertheless, make sure you follow the instructions to apply these creams properly.

Often the acids present in the creams (topical exfoliates) lead to redness, stinging, or skin irritation. Thus, these aren’t recommended for younger children.

#2: Creams for Preventing Clogged Follicles

Skincare creams derivative of vitamin A (topical retinoids) can prevent clogged follicles. It promotes cell turnover as well.

However, the application of the cream can dry and irritate the skin.

Pregnant or nursing women should delay using topical retinoid therapy. Instead, they can go for another keratosis pilaris treatment as prescribed by their doctor.

Definitely, regular use of the cream can improve the small bumps on arms, cheeks, and thighs. Stopping their use can also revert the skin condition.


Before using either of the products, do a test first. Apply it in a small part of any affected area and see the outcome.

If you face no negative complications, go ahead. If you do face any reaction, don’t use it. Talk to your doctor and look for other possible solutions.

A Keratosis Pilaris Treatment might relieve you from the symptoms. Still, it can last for years. In such cases, lifestyle changes and home remedies can help further.

Natural methods have shown positive results. So, employing them might give you further assistance.


Keratosis Pilaris Cure – How to Get Rid of the Skin Bumps Naturally?

Keratosis Pilaris medical treatments aren’t helpful all the time. In such cases, self-measures, lifestyle changes, home remedies are quite beneficial. 

These won’t prevent the skin condition or completely eliminate it. However, these natural methods can improve the appearance and may lessen its impact.

A few changes in your habits and style of living can have a greater positive impact on keratosis pilaris.

How to Get Rid of Keratosis Pilaris?

We’ve mentioned the primary changes you should make right below.

#1. Bath with Warm Water and Limit Bath Time

Hot water and long bath times eliminate natural oils from the skin. So, you have to practice a healthier bathing routine.

Limit your shower time to 10 minutes or less. Instead of hot water, bathe with warmer or cold water.

#2. Use Gentle Cleansers

Some soaps make your skin dry and harsh. This has a worrisome impact on this derma problem. Thus, exfoliate the dead skin with a loofah or a washcloth. 

Scrubbing roughly may remove hair follicle plugs irritating your skin and exaggerating the skin issue.

So, being gentle to your skin is a top priority. After bathing, pat your skin with a towel to leave a bit of moisture.

#3. Use Medicated Creams

Medicated over-the-counter creams can help. Usually, these consist of urea, alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. 

These skincare creams eliminate dead skin cells while moisturizing and softening your dry skin. In fact, you should apply them before using any moisturizer of your choice.

#4. Moisturize

Applying a moisturizer with lanolin, petroleum jelly, or glycerin may provide further relief. These moisturize and soothe dry skin.

Surprisingly, thicker moisturizers appear to provide better results. As per requirement reapply your cream on the affected area for better results.

#5. Use a Humidifier

Low humidity oftentimes dries out the skin, leading to itchiness and irritability.

Thus, a portable home humidifier can provide additional moisture inside your home. This helps maintain your skin moisture.

#6. Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothes

Wearing tight clothes creates friction. Hence, certain impacts on the affected area might appear as inflammation. In any skin condition, the specialist recommends avoiding tight-fitting clothes.

Sometimes, a few changes in lifestyle can help in relieving the symptoms to a greater extent. In fact, dermatologists suggest taking regular care of your skin to manage sudden flare-ups.

Lastly, we are leaving you with a summed up overview of this guide on Keratosis Pilaris.


The Takeaway

Small bumps on arms, thighs, cheeks, and other body parts are common. Although usually harmless, a growing skin bump is a topic of concern.  

Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition, though, occurring in people of all age groups. Early symptoms and signs can help in diagnosis.

Several medical treatments are beneficial in treating the health condition. Still, employing natural methods on a regular basis provides much better help.

The exact reason behind Keratosis Pilaris is still not known. Ongoing studies are revealing different causes leading to skin problems. However, family history is a strong cause as seen in different studies.

Also, researchers have discovered different variants of Keratosis Pilaris. More findings can be expected in the coming time.

We hope this guide on Keratosis Pilaris helped you acknowledge the different facets of this skin condition. Leave your comments below to let us know what treatments have proven to be useful for you!

Horizon Clinics

At Horizon Clinics, we help you decode the solutions to your micro-health battles. Our in-depth and practical guides cover everything from diet plans, weight loss, workouts, and bodybuilding to issues of mental health.

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