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Keratosis pilaris is a rash that is usually found on the outer areas of the upper arms, thighs, and cheeks. It is characterized by flesh-colored to slightly red, rough, distinct bumps. Keratosis pilaris is occasionally itchy, but otherwise it is only significant cosmetically.
Keratosis pilaris is caused by a plug of dead skin cells that forms around a hair follicle. These plugs give the skin a sandpapery or “goose-bumps” feeling. Often the surrounding skin is dry. Keratosis pilaris is usually worse during the winter months and is most commonly seen in children and young adults.
Keratosis pilaris is a benign condition and treatment is usually only necessary for cosmetic reasons. Lubricants may help with the dryness, but do not tend to clear the bumps. Mild peeling agents are most effective in opening the plugged hair follicles by removing the excess skin. Each affected person may respond differently to therapies, but urea preparations (such as Differin, Retin–A, Avita, or Tazorac) are the most commonly used therapies.
Effective therapy must be continued on a regular basis or the keratosis pilaris recurs. The treatments do not work with all patients. For most patients, treatment is unnecessary.