Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that causes very small rough bumps on the skin. The tiny bumps are plugs of dead skin cells within hair follicles. These bumps most commonly appear on the upper arms and thighs. They can also be present on the buttocks, and they are common on the cheeks of young children.
Keratosis pilaris is harmless. It may be more common in people who have atopic dermatitis, asthma, or seasonal allergies. Some people experience itch with these bumps, and sometimes people are bothered by the redness of the bumps. This condition can gradually fade over time and may even disappear into adulthood.
Keeping the skin moisturized is very important to help soothe this condition. Applying a cream or ointment after bathing and again 2-3 times daily is recommended. Cream or lotion that contains urea, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or at least 12% ammonium lactate as an ingredient will help shed the plug of dead skin cells causing the bumps and can have the most benefit with regular use. These ingredients are called keratolytics. Some creams contain a combination of several of these keratolytic ingredients to maximize benefit. Occasionally your dermatologist may recommend or prescribe a topical retinoid or corticosteroid depending on severity.