When you notice a new skin condition or problem it can be annoying and sometimes alarming. What causes it? Does your normal skincare routine work? Do you need to stock your beauty cabinet with new products to improve it? You may feel that you are a detective trying to put together what is happening and what is at fault.
One skin condition that can be particularly confusing and annoying is keratosis pilaris. That is the dry, rough skin that can be rough and can look like small pimples. This is common but often seems difficult to deal with or throw away. If this sounds like something to talk to you, I asked the experts for some tips to help you organize everything.
First, it is important to understand exactly what pilat keratosis (KP) really is. "Keratosis pilaris is a chronic condition that presents with dry, dry skin," explains board-Certified dermatologist Ife Rodney MD, FAAD, of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics . "The skin around the hair follicles has excess keratin and dead skin cell aging. This buildup can lead to rough, sometimes scaly mound or bump. While KP usually occurs above arm, thigh, and buttocks, it can also affect the whole arm, legs, or face. It can be stressful because of its appearance, but KP is not dangerous and does not indicate any internal disease. "
Here it gets confusing – no one really knows the real cause of KP, but we do know that it happens when dead skin cells block pores, according to board-Certified dermatologist Flora Kim MD, FAAD. While this can happen at any time of the year, Rodney said flare-ups often occur in the cooler months when the humidity drops. Those in colder climates can be more susceptible to KP, and if you are in a warmer, the skin can dry out and make the condition worse.
There is also evidence that it runs in families and is thought to be genetic. "It is more common in individuals with a history of eczema or extremely dry skin," says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip MD, FAAD, owner of Vibrant Dermatology at SkinBar MD . "Most cases start in childhood or adolescence and resolve in the early 30s." You may also experience KP if you have asthma or ichthyosis vulgaris. Jennifer MacGregor, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology says she has seen more cases of flare-ups in women in the early postpartum period after having children .
KP is a common and unhealthy skin condition, but there may be some situations where you want to see a doctor. MacGregor recommends seeing a dermatologist if you find it wide, if there are lumps in the pus, or if it is soft. There is also a variation of KP called the inflammatory KP. "It is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by small bumps on the face that can be very itchy," explains Imahiyerobo-Ip. "Often, you can also see traditional KP in the arms. Inflammatory KP is a medical condition that requires medical management by a board-Certified dermatologist."
Kim added that there are some rare conditions that can mimic the appearance of KP. “If anything that should be kind is overly stubborn and worsening, please check with your board-certified dermatologist to make sure there is nothing disturbing being masquerading as KP,” he suggested.
There is no cure for KP, but in many cases, it will disappear in your 30s. While there is no magic fix, there are many things you can do to manage it, which experts outline for us:
Take a short, warm shower. Long, hot showers will strip the skin of natural oils, says Rodney.
Use a moisturizer at home. This will help in the drier months.
Avoid harsh soaps. "Soaps contain surfactants that detoxify the skin and damage the skin's protective barrier. Instead, I recommend using a moisturizing soap, such as white Dove bar, that directly hydrates the skin," said Rodney. You should also avoid scrubbing the area with a coarse paste or loofah, as it will not work and may aggravate KP, MacGregor added.
 Avoid fragrance. This can be an issue if you are allergic or sensitive to perfumes, MacGregor said.
Moisturize. "Moisturizing your body is important and non-negotiable for people with KP," says Rodney. "Do this directly in the shower and reapply on the day when the skin starts to dry." Reach for moisturizers with glycerin, lanolin, or petroleum jelly. Rodney also recommends ammonium lactate or urea-based creams, which help to break down KP plugs.
Exfoliate. "To minimize decay, it is important but mild exfoliation is important," Kim said. "I recommend that exfoliation be done weekly and continue even if keratosis pilaris is inactive to prevent it from reappearing. After exfoliation, it is necessary to be extremely generous with the immediate daily application of a rich, hydrating moisturizer. Consistency is key. "For exfoliants, Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid.
Avoid tight clothing. This can cause friction in the area where you have KP, Rodney says.
Use sunscreen. This is a must for everyone but it is especially important if you have KP. “Use mineral SPF because redness and bumps can be brown or darker with UV exposure,” MacGregor said.
Try laser treatments. "As redness can be attributed to this, I recommend combining laser treatments to mix color with a light skin chemical (lactic acid) for skin smoothing," says the board-Certified dermatologist Roberta Del Campo, MD .
Microdermabrasion. Other office treatment options include microdermabrasion and skin chemicals. “While microdermabrasion uses a diamond-tip wand to remove keratin plugs, chemical skins use stronger acid solutions to dissolve them,” Rodney said.
Prescription treatments. Your dermatologist may also recommend a prescription product such as a cream or moisturizer that contains alpha and beta hydroxy acid to break down excess keratin, Rodney added. You can also prescribe a retinoid to help with cell transfer.